I have been wanting to get out and hear John Stangry (Angry John Stangry) and his CRS Band for some time and finally had that opportunity when he recently played at the Saxon Inn, Natrona Heights, PA. He is from the Huntingdon area of Westmoreland County, a bit of a drive from my hometown of Butler. Natrona is only a half hour drive for me so I pounced on my chance!
I first heard of John several years ago when I stumbled upon a few video snippets on YouTube, but it wasn’t until the former Teddy’s Restaurant open stages in Irwin just over a year ago that I met him and heard him play some in person. I was impressed and entertained, even at an open stage!
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There are a lot of good guitar players in this country, even in this area, but it’s a rare treat to find pickers with a truly unique style that, when heard, are instantly recognized and associated with that player. Angry Johnny is one of those pickers!
Just about anybody who’s heard John play will tell you most of his solo’s sound like he’s angry, or pissed off! They don’t necessarily start off that way. Often his playing will very slowly captivate your ear, luring you on a little musical journey.
The notes creep into your head and then like a time-release drug kicking in without warning, you find yourself entangled in an angry, screaming cluster of guitar strings, notes, bends, slides and musical eruptions!
Clueless how you got there or where to get out, Johnny gently guides you back to earth. A little stunned and not unlike your first roller coaster experience, you realize how cool that mind trip was and you’re soon ready for more! That was indeed my experience! Any blues I had in my heart prior to walking into the Saxon that night were swiftly eradicated by a controlled demolition of music coming from Angry Johnny and the CRS band!
Video “Cause We Ended as Lovers”
I can hear a lot of influences coming through in his playing. I hear Roy Buchanan, Danny Gatton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Beck, Hendrix and a hint of Clapton. There’s most definitely a country element to his playing as well and his muting techniques are quite awesome and enjoyable to listen to!
I’ve never talked to John about his guitar influences but those are a few of the guitarists and styles I hear in his playing. Above all, I hear a unique and genuine sound coming from this Pennsylvania player. It is quite obvious John Stangry has worked hard on developing his own style. You know Johnny’s playing from the guitar sounds in the parking lot before you even enter the venue!
Aside from his six string ability, John is a very good singer! His cover of the Beatles classic “Oh Darling” is as good as any I’ve ever heard. (Be sure to check out that video and the others!)
Video “Oh Darlin!”
The CRS Band was 3 piece the night I saw him, which I think is usually the case. (CRS stands for “Can’t Remember Shit”, a phrase coined by John’s Father as he aged and started forgetting things!) While the focus is on John’s guitar playing, one cannot help but take notice that these other band members are excellent musicians! Solid rhythm and some great back up vocals is what I experienced at the show.
The CRS Band in these videos:
Another element of John’s style is that he plays “off the cuff” for most of his material. John told me this himself and it doesn’t surprise me. You never know where he’s going to take a song, and neither does the rest of the band!
They read each other well on stage and John is a good director, in control and mentally a few bars ahead of the music. I think this improvisational factor is important in the CRS band’s ability to keep things fresh and interesting. They made a believer out of me!
Video “Shake it out” (not sure of the title…very nice performance…give it a look!)
If you like “in your face” guitar and hard driving rockin’ blues music, do not hesitate in planning a trip to see an Angry Johnny show with his CRS band! This is not the “same old, same old” by any stretch! Thanks for what you do John, keep on pickin!
You can watch more video of Angry Johnny on my you tube channel.
Visit John’s website at: www.angryjohnnystangry.com/
You can also look him up on Facebook and give him a Like!