Jonathan Tyler doesn’t use complicated musical lingo while praising ZZ Top.
“It’s dirty Texas, hot weather music,” he said. “I think that ZZ Top feels like the South.”
Tyler is the frontman for Dallas-based Jonathan Tyler & the Northern Lights, the act that will open for ZZ Top during Wednesday’s show at the Columbus Civic Center.
We talked to Tyler at the onset of his band’s touring stint with the Texas rock/blues legends. Tyler hadn’t yet interacted with the three musicians in the headlining act.
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“I don’t know what to expect,” said Tyler, whose band has opened for acts like AC/DC and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
He added that regardless of the tour’s outcome, ZZ Top has already taught him an important musical lesson.
“Their attitude comes through in their music. You feel what they feel,” he said.
Even if you’re not a die-hard fan of the band’s music, it’s hard not to hear the name “ZZ Top” without seeing a mental picture of the band’s three members sporting sunglasses and some extreme facial hair.
Known for tunes like “Legs,” “Gimme All Your Lovin’” and “Tush,” ZZ Top has retained its original lineup for more than 40 years.
For many music fans, the act represents a comforting constant — evidence of artists who know both their audience and musical identity.
The current crop of music? Not so much, Tyler said. Don’t get him started on a certain Fox reality TV talent competition.
“I don’t like ‘American Idol’ at all,” Tyler said. “I think it’s fast food for music listeners.”
He pointed to problems dominating the current mainstream rock landscape, factors like an over-saturation of talent and short musical attention spans.
The musicians from Jonathan Tyler & the Northern Lights were aware of those obstacles going into their recent national debut CD release.
The band, which has been compared to acts like the Black Crowes, will perform this summer at Tennessee’s Bonnaroo Music Festival.
What separates their CD from the rest of the pack?
“It’s relatable,” Tyler said. “Art is supposed to evoke emotion.”
Don’t be surprised if emotion soon inspires you to forgo shaving — all in the name of sporting a beard that mirrors your favorite ZZ Top member’s style.
Sonya Sorich, reporter, can be reached via phone at 706-571-8516.