Grant Langston has long been familiar to local audiences, thanks to roadhouse-style gigs with his Supermodels band at clubs like T. Boyle’s and songwriter nights such as the Wine & Song showcase he’s playing Wednesday. With at least 10 albums to his credit, he’s a prolific veteran of LA’s independent Americana scene.
By day, the Alabama-raised musician cuts a very different figure as the CEO of online dating service eHarmony. It’s a detail-attentive position that exercises his restless intelligence and often calls for him to hop a flight to Europe or Australia to promote the company. It also requires communication and organizational skills he’s long employed as a bandleader (although it’s unlikely you’ll find him donning a cowboy hat while gladhanding business partners). The question of how a married father of two manages to work a high-pressure job and still regularly carve out creative space for writing, recording and performing sparks a thoughtful conversation.
“Music is like my left arm, or my leg,” he explains. “It is not an option, honestly, for me to stop playing music and continue being a happy, productive person in the rest of my life.”
Having started singing harmony in church choir at age 6 and playing guitar at 10, he says he long ago realized that “the only thing that is really, absolutely essential is music.” He played in a rock band while studying political science at Auburn University, and continued paying dues in dive bar bands after moving to LA in 1988. These days, if he isn’t fronting his Supermodels he can be found playing in the Jolenes, a rollicking side project with fellow songwriters Dan Janisch and David Serby, or singing three-part harmony in Davey Meshell’s soul band the TransAtlantics.
Earlier this year Langston released “Los Angeles Duets,” a relaxed, truthfully titled collection of 10 songs co-written and sung with friends from LA’s roots and songwriter communities, including Janisch and Serby, Claire Holley, Groovy Rednecks frontman Tex Troester, Brian Whelan, Emily Zuzik, and bassist/producer Ted Russell Kamp, with whom he wrote “The Road to Fame” (“You don’t pick music, it picks you/ And there’s ain’t another thing that I wanna do”). It’s another example of how strict scheduling and compartmentalization enable his commitment to music.
“I’m touching bases with all the things that matter. I’m spending time with my son — we’re playing with trucks and that’s awesome, and that gives me a deep, deep satisfaction. I’m writing a song with Ted Kamp and that gives me a deep satisfaction. And I’m running this business, which is also satisfying to me in a lot of ways, and of course it makes the money that runs the rest of my life. I am not a guy that could exist without these two worlds.”
Wine & Song presents Grant Langston at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 24, at Arroyo Seco Golf Course, 1055 Lohman Lane, South Pasadena; $15. Los Tres are also on the bill. Wineandsong.com, grantlangston.com