Bryan Lee review…September 7, 2013…

BRYAN LEE

PLAY ONE FOR ME

SEVERN RECORDS  CD 0059

ARETHA (PLAY ONE FOR ME)–IT’S TOO BAD (THINGS ARE GOING SO TOUGH)–WHEN LOVE BEGINS (FRIENDSHIP ENDS)–EVIL IS GOING ON–YOU WAS MY BABY (BUT YOU AIN’T MY BABY NO MORE)–STRAIGHT TO YOUR HEART–POISON–LET ME LOVE YOU TONIGHT–WHY–SIXTY-EIGHT YEARS YOUNG

Growing up in Wisconsin, Bryan Lee got exposed to the blues in much the same way we did–from the late-night R & B sounds that emanated from the 50, 000 watts of WLAC in Nashville.  He moved to New Orleans in 1982, and has become a musical institution there, holding down a five-nights-a-week gig at the Olde Absinthe House on Bourbon Street for many years.  He’s also called “The Braille Blues Daddy,” as he’s been blind since the age of eight.

For his latest album, Bryan combines his love for traditional blues with some of the R & B sounds from those WLAC days of his youth with some smooth soul-blues arrangements that comprise the cuts found in “Play One For Me.”  It’s on the Severn label, and pairs Bryan’s guitar and vocals with that label’s “house band,” featuring Kevin Anker on keys, Steve Gomes on bass, Robb  Stupka on drums, and special guests Kim Wilson on harp and Johnny Moeller on rhythm guitar.

The set starts with the slick groove of  “Aretha (Sing One For Me), which finds Bryan shoutin’ out to the Queen of Soul to try and bring his lover back thru her music.  Bryan’s guitar cries over a sweet horn-and-strings arrangement on “When Love Begins (Friendship Ends), and resurfaces later on the breezy swing of “Let Me Love You Tonight.”

Bryan has always had a keen ear for traditional blues, and those cuts served as our personal favorites.  The echo effect vocal and Kim’s big-toned harp on “Poison” gives this cut some serious New Orleans mojo, while Bryan gets in some swingin’ “uptown” guitar licks over Kevin’s acoustic piano on Freddie King’s “It’s Too Bad (Things Are Going So Tough).  And, Kim’s harp indeed sounds like “that next thing smokin” in a fine cover of “Evil Is Going On.”

A new album from Bryan Lee is always a welcomed event, because you know you’ll get top-notch musicianship from a man who’s been playing these blues for some fifty years.  “Sing One For Me” serves as his debut for an American label, and proudly brings “The Braille Blues Daddy” to the forefront of contemporary blues once again!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

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