EDWARDSVILLE — Three months into dating Julie Patton, Lanny Langston knew he had something special.
One day, she started singing an a capella version of the Beatles’ “If I Fell.” Lanny, who did not know Julie could sing, liked her voice and he began accompanying her on guitar. He suggested they try an open mic night.
“It was a joint idea at the time, but Julie’s the real motivator here,” Langston said. “She’s always pushing to take us to the next level, get more gigs, try new venues and try new music.”
The Edwardsville-based cover duo had its first gig on April 15, 2013, at Stagger Inn in Edwardsville.
“It was pretty disastrous,” Langston said, laughing. “I was about ready to quit after that one, but we persevered through it.”
Since that first open mic night, Langston, a contractor by day, and Patton, who works at a dentist’s office, have formed a duo act known as Lanny & Julie. Langston plays guitar and provides backup vocals, while Patton sings and plays percussion instruments such as the tambourine.
“We both have our pressures in different ways,” Langston said. “She’s got to carry most of the singing load, and I’ve got to carry most of the instrumental side of things.”
Within a year, they were performing throughout the area about once a week.
“It’s all about the networking,” Langston said. “You play someplace and you meet somebody and they like you so they pick up your card and they call you.”
Patton, who schedules most of their performances and handles promotion, said she did not anticipate the difficulty she has faced in scheduling gigs.
“I always thought getting gigs would be easy,” Patton said. “I thought you just start a duo and call places and they hire you, but it’s definitely not that easy.”
The hard work seems to be paying off. The couple sometimes performs three or four times a week, and their networking has resulted in more than performance opportunities.
“Everybody’s so dang nice, regardless of their political or religious backgrounds,” Patton said. “It sounds kind of like a cliché, I know, but music really does bring people together. We’ve witnessed it.”
“I’ve got more friends now than I have since high school, and probably more,” Langston added.
In their five years together, the duo has seen the local music scene from the perspective of insiders, and says they are fortunate to be a part of such a vibrant community.
“There’s a lot of super-talented people around here. That’s another thing that just blows me away,” Langston said. “It’s just amazing. These guys are good enough to play in Nashville and those kinds of places, but they stick around here.”
“People think music is dying, but it’s definitely not dying, that’s for sure,” Patton said of the local music scene. “It’s alive and well and thriving.”
Lanny & Julie perform covers of songs from the 1960s through present day. Some of their personal favorites to perform include Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide,” Elton John’s “Rocket Man” and Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud.”
“Our catalog is getting more diverse the more we play,” Langston said. “That’s the best practice you can have, really … to be out playing in the venues.”
And although there is some financial compensation, neither musician really sees what they do as a “job” or a “gig.” To them, it is more like hanging with friends.
“It’s fun to be the one who’s driving the party,” Patton said. “It doesn’t seem too much like work.”
“For me it’s always about the music and the people that you meet,” Langston added. “Oh, and getting to play with her.”
In the Riverbend, Lanny & Julie can be seen at Jimmy the Greek’s in Alton on select Thursday evenings. They also perform at Laurie’s Place in Edwardsville. To learn more or to book the duo, visit the Lanny & Julie Facebook page or call (618) 623-1324.
• 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, June 23, at Lascelles in Granite City
• 8 p.m. to 11:55 p.m. Friday, June 24, at the Edwardsville Moose Lodge
• 6:30 p.m. to 10 pm. Saturday, June 25, at Laurie’s Place in Edwardsville