Newcomer Jon Langston might be a fresh face in the minds of many country fans, but he’s already proven himself to one of the genre’s favorite superstars–Luke Bryan. Last night (Feb. 13) Bryan opened up his downtown Nashville mega-honkytonk, 32 Bridge, for Langston and his rowdy, homegrown fanbase, allowing the fellow Georgia native to perform his new song “Dance Tonight” in Music City style.
Langston co-wrote the breezy romantic jam with his producer Jody Stevens, then put it out today as a special Valentine’s Day surprise – and the followup to his seductive “When It Comes to Loving You,” Langston’s first track to chart at country radio last summer. The party was something of a preview of what fans will get on Bryan’s 2019 Sunset Repeat Tour this summer, which will feature Langston alongside Cole Swindell as opening acts. But Bryan wasn’t content to just host the shindig from the shadows – he decided to climb up onstage and make his support for the rising talent known to all.
Speaking with Sounds Like Nashville after the good times subsided, Langston filled us in on how the night turned out, why “Dance Tonight” sounds like a slice of classic ‘90s country and what he’ll be most excited about when his headlining Dance Tonight Tour kicks off Saturday night in Chicago.
Last night you played “Dance Tonight” at Luke Bryan’s bar in downtown Nashville – and it looked like honky tonk heaven. Set the scene for us, what was the atmosphere like?
It was a straight up blast. We had a bunch of fans there who won VIP access to be in the front row, so we had fans there had been with me since day one and then some new fans, plus some of my family and old friends from back home in Georgia, and friends from other labels like Morgan Wallen. Of course, knowing that Luke was gonna surprise everyone, I knew it was gonna be a huge deal. It was so much fun, it was electric. One I’ll remember for sure.
Luke has really taken you under his wing. Being a fan of his, is it hard to wrap your head around touring with him and all his support?
I still can’t believe it to this day–having Luke in my corner. Whenever I need somebody to go to, he’s there, and it’s just crazy to think I’ve got somebody like that. He’s one of the greatest guys I’ve ever met, and he’s a great mentor to me. We made a joke that last night he was playing in front of my banner for once. (laughs) It’s so cool to know I’m in with one of the coolest guys in the business–I mean, he let me throw a party at his bar!
And you two ended up onstage together.
Well, me and my band played some of our fans’ favorite songs, then we did a mashup of some covers, and then while we were crashing out with the band at the very end I was like “Y’all get ready for Luke Bryan!” He got up and people were losing their minds. I think he was only supposed to play for 30 minutes, but he just kept the party going. It was awesome.
Tell me about “Dance Tonight.”
Back a year ago when we wrote the song I was just like “Man, I don’t have a fun, dance song. I’ve got all these moody, vibey story songs, but I don’t have a song to just get people up on their feet and having a good time.” So we sat down, and all I had in my head was “If you wanna dance tonight, I ain’t the best but baby I can try.” That’s the only lyric I had going in, and we kind of wrote off of that idea. It turned out to be pretty cool. It’s got this ‘90s feel to it, and these fans seemed to dig it. It’s just about grabbing the person who’s special in your life and dancing in the kitchen after a long day at work.
You mentioned that it has a ‘90s feel, and that’s funny because I hear a bit of John Anderson, Tracy Lawrence rumble in your voice on it. Where does that come from?
I’ll take that. (laughs) It’s just the way different tracks go, sometime they bring out a different way of delivering a lyric. You just get in your element on some songs, so I guess that part of me was just coming out a little bit.
Country can sound like almost anything nowadays.
Oh for sure, and I’ve got a whole bunch of sides of me I’ve got to express.
You have worked with a lot of different sounds already. Is there one thing that’s most important about your kind of country? What’s the common thread?
I wouldn’t say I have one common thread, and it’s funny you say that because we’ve been working on all these songs over the past year and it’s just like every song is so different from the last. Nothing sounds like the one before it. I think it’s just because my style is more grit than smooth honey, and I like all kinds of music and sounds.
If you’ve been working on a lot of new songs, does that mean there’s a bigger project on the way?
Yeah, we’re cutting songs all the time. These fans have been like “When’s the album coming?” And honestly I couldn’t tell you. We’re still got a long ways to go – a whole lot more writing to do and then cutting in the studio. But we’ll definitely be back in the studio early this year.
I did notice on your socials that you and your buddy Morgan Wallen have been hinting at something. Can you share anything about what that might be?
Well, we’re just really good buds and we like to make plans. We look to the future and see what cool things me and him could do together. It’s coming, we don’t know for sure what it’s gonna be or how we’re gonna do it, but we want to do something in country music that will be special and people will love.
You’ve got a headline tour kicking off in a few days. How does that rank on the list of big things you’ve been doing?
It’s pretty surreal to start off the Dance Tonight Tour with a sold out show in Chicago – especially because Chicago is one of my favorite cities ever. We’ve been playing these shows all over the country, and doing another Dance Tonight Tour is gonna be a pretty cool way to get us ready for the Sunset Repeat Tour with Luke.