More Lang for their buck

Photos provided by Richard Barnes and Mural Arts Philadelphia

Particularly through his guitarist role within the Blackbird Society Orchestra, Richard Barnes has long lauded the legacy of Eddie Lang, finding the native of Seventh and Clymer streets an immense influence on the evolution of jazz. On Sunday, the admirer will continue to chronicle the clout that the fellow guitar wielder holds through an eponymous day of celebration at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts.

“We are losing history every day, so I believe in keeping that era of music alive,” the Delaware County resident said of his esteem for tunes from the 1920s and ’30s, which his 13-piece outfit plays across the Tri-state area. “For me and many others, Lang is such a connector to many of the greats, but if you ask many people who he is, you’ll receive stares.”

Barnes is beckoning various generations to appreciate the talents of the man born Salvatore Massaro through his sixth autumnal tribute. Lang, whose A-list affiliations included work with Hoagy Carmichael, Paul Whiteman, Lonnie Johnson and Bing Crosby, offers a classic “What might have been case,” as he died at only 30 following a tonsillectomy. Enamored with his output for more than two decades, Barnes, whose colleagues will join him as the main act for the 1–4 p.m. occasion, which will benefit Musicopia and Dancing Classrooms Philly, sees Eddie Lang Day as a chance to find joy in the positivity of its namesake’s catalogue and to promote awareness of an all-too-often forgotten great. Eddie Lang Month may be a more fitting title, as Barnes and other supporters are counting down to an Oct. 23 South Philly-based event. This one will be a masterpiece — the unveiling of a 50-foot mural at Seventh and Fitzwater streets.

“I’ve had that kind of desire to immortalize him for a few years,” Barnes, who just over a year ago made his pitch to Mural Arts Philadelphia executive director Jane Golden, said of being a man whose wish has come true. “That will be incredible, especially for community awareness, since maybe it will inspire people to learn something about history and to consider how the past can influence us.”

The fall event in Bella Vista will cap South Philly’s robust involvement in Mural Arts Month 2016: Roots and Risk, with the opening party set for 6 to 10 p.m. tomorrow at Snyder Avenue and Swanson Street. That heavy concentration of projects pleases Golden, the overseer of the nation’s largest public art program.

“We pay keen attention to where we’re working and love having a valued presence in such a rich and diverse part of the city,” she said of her brainchild’s focus on stressing each section of Philadelphia as a unifier through art. “We must always be acutely aware that creativity can bind us, and we’re ecstatic to have so many talented artists bringing great ideas to life.”

Jared Bader has received the honor of depicting Lang, with Barnes saying his design “says so much and means to much.” The unveiling of the endeavor and the showcasing of four pieces through Friday’s Murals at Swanson Walk gathering will team with Oct. 12’s 9th Street Stock Exchange project within the 9th Street Italian Market; Oct. 14’s Philadelphia 76ers homage at 1207 S. Broad St.; Oct. 15’s South Philly Musicians Remix Block Party at 1532 S. Broad St.; and Oct. 20’s interactive What’s in Your Trash? with Trash Academy presentation to swell Mural Arts’ artworks tally to nearly 4,000 and Golden’s heart with pride.

“We ask about the possible impact of ideas, and we’re blown away with the answers because they center on innovation, which is the driving force behind cities’ growth,” she said. “Art is great for helping us to appreciate the beauty, magic, and hope that’s out there and within us.” SPR

For more information, visit or

Contact Staff Writer Joseph Myers at

Richard Barnes, first from left, will lead Sunday’s musical festivities. Oct. 23 will see the unveiling of the Eddie Lang mural by artist Jared Bader not far from where the jazz pioneer grew up.

Photos provided by Richard Barnes and Mural Arts Philadelphia