Singer, songwriter and guitarist Blaine Long has been an East Valley resident since he was a tot. His style is reminiscent of a young Bob Dylan mixed with a dash of Bruce Springsteen, and his storyteller-esque way of singing simply grabs the listener and pulls them into Long’s world. Heartfelt and real, Long’s original songs are relatable and authentic.
Many people recognize Long from his appearance on season 11 of TV talent show “The Voice” in 2016. He successfully saw judges turn their chairs for his singing talent and wound up on Blake Shelton’s team. Long never felt that he was a great fit for the show and has since returned to his preferred groove of performing live at local venues.
The spark for performing was ignited in Long when he was a youngster and his father would play records late at night on weekends. “My family would slowly go to bed and I would stay up with my dad… Just a little kid hanging out with his dad,” says Long. “My dad was not one for music, so when he put music on, it was like, ‘What’s happening here?’” His father would play everything from vintage Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash to classical music. It left an impact on the budding musician.
While attending a boarding academy in Scottsdale, Long was sinking more than he was floating, as he explains it, and left the school. He eventually hooked up with some friends who needed a singer for their band for their high school talent show. “I was pretty aimless - I don’t have any education and no GED,” says Long. “This is all I’ve wanted to do. I’m sort of a throwback.”
Writing songs was always his first love. “I consider myself lucky, not smart, and I thought songs were what it was all about,” he says. From writing songs, to singing, Long’s style has evolved. “The guys would tease me and say I sounded like if Tracy Chapman and Michael Stipe had a baby,” laughs Long. “But I evolved because I didn’t stop.” He worked relentlessly for years, playing three-hour shows each day, five or six days a week.
“I was making amazing money before ‘The Voice’ as a solo artist in town playing 100 percent originals in bars and restaurants.” Long explains. “Through that, I got into a record deal. I worked out of a studio doing one of my records and I’ve been doing a record a year.” While working at the studio, Long ran into Arizona attorney Grant Woods. Long went on to perform on Woods’ album “The Project” that was comprised of local artists performing original songs written by the former Arizona Attorney General.
Shortly thereafter, Woods started his own record label and signed Long. Woods took Long to meet with someone that the new record label owner thought could get Long on “The Voice,” and a private audition was arranged. He wanted to “play nice,” but Long didn’t think he’d have a shot at getting on the show and wasn’t overly excited about the prospect. After two auditions, he was chosen to appear the show. “They told us we’d be gone for two months for the first round, and I have adopted kids, so I can’t be away from my babies that long,” he says. His wife strongly encouraged him to go.
But Reality TV isn’t all that it appears. “It was hard at first because you have to go along with it, says Long." There wasn’t any direct coaching from Shelton, although Long was fine with working with a couple other vocal coaches. Ultimately, he was happy to get off the show with his dignity and professionalism intact. Outside of better paying gigs, no other opportunities came his way.
“I’m very different now, I’m playing by my own rules,” explains Long who has since moved on from his TV experience. “I’m so lucky! I have a house and a truck, and I get to write and play original music. That’s where my passion is.”
To date, Long has 13 original records under his belt, and his next record “Komodo” will be released in the next several weeks. Additionally, he recently received a guitar endorsement from Guild Guitars.
He is also grateful for Arizona venues that book him, particularly Good Time Charlie’s in Chandler. “It’s the neighborhood hang - the neighborhood bar,” says Long who performs there each Wednesday on the patio. “They support live music like no one else I’ve seen. They fought hard to stay open during the pandemic.”
COVID-19 has put a damper on entertainment, but Long is committed to performing. “It comes down to passion,” finishes Long. “This is all I’ve ever wanted since I was a little kid.”
To learn more about Blaine Long visit blanielong.com