A few years ago, The Line’s photographer Stephen Anderson was the first of us to learn of bluesman and American roots musician Wes Lee. It was at a show at the famous Julep Room in Ocean Springs, MS.
In 2014, we were fortunate enough to see Lee perform with fellow accommplished blues musicians – Rambling Steve Gardner, Libby Rae Watson and Bill Steber as they were touring across the Deep South as ‘The House Party & Traveling Road Show.”
Wes Lee in 2014 at the Mary C. in Ocean Springs, MS (Photo by Stephen Anderson)
All those associated with the Traveling Road Show are a highly qualified link to the history of the blues and its many memorable (and often, not so remembered) bluesmen.
During the 2014 tour, we were able to see the Traveling Road Show a number of times, including at the one-of-a-kind “Birdie’s Roadhouse” (north of Bogalusa, LA). The Line even wrote an article about it; one we highly enjoyed doing.
Since that tour, The Line has seen Lee perform, solo, several times at places such as Jack’s by the Tracks (Pascagoula, MS), Ben Kaufman’s Irish Coast Pub (Gulfport, MS), and at the L.A. “Lower Alabama” Songwriters Festival (Fairhope, AL).
Music is nothing new to Lee; it’s deeply rooted in Lee’s family and upbringing. After growing up in Mobile, AL, Lee traveled with a huge band in the early years. The money and road took its toll, which is common for traveling musicians – Lee was no different, but he never lost that spark for his love of music.
Eventually, Lee’s attention shifted towards performing solo as a blues performer. He had the natural ability for writing original material and “the smarts” to learn what the blues masters were providing its hungry and ambitious students.
Wes Lee at The Listening Room in Mobile, AL (Photo by Stephen Anderson)
One of many things we can appreciate about Lee – unlike several wannabe bluesmen and women, there was never some “fly by the night” decision to pick up a guitar, learn four or five songs, enter a high profile contest with hopes of no one noticing his or her lack of the human side of the blues. These days I guess, when one sells their soul to the devil, it’s sponsored by Chicken McNuggets served with BBQ sauce and a large Pepsi-Cola (since Coke is the “real thing”).
WES LEE WOULD HAVE NONE OF THAT HYPOCRACY. IT’S SO NOT WHAT HE IS ABOUT! – we can be thankful for that!
* (a tiny note: There’s nothing wrong with contests, but sadly, the best musicians are often overlooked instead for flashier less qualified musicians. Muddy Waters, B..B. King, Son House would, likely, not even win one of these contests. I don’t think any song from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack would or should be considered a credible blues choice, do you?)
Lee is not only an amazing guitarist, but a student of everything that came before. He gives praise and honor where it’s due. Yes, he most certainly is a “True Disciple of the Blues”.
Lee’s impressive body of work is showcased on several releases. His latest “Blue Roux” continues with songs that fit appropriately with his musical body of work. Drawing from his own life’s experiences provide evidence of his first rate songwriting ability.
On Friday. June 26, 2015, Wes Lee was scheduled to perform at one of Mobile, Alabama’s latest music venues, “The Listening Room”. When I mention it, so as not be confused with The Listening Room Cafe in Nashville, I’ll call this one, The Listening Room of Mobile, Alabama. What Jim Pennington is doing with his place at 78 St. Francis Street in downtown Mobile is right on track in what is needed for the city. Mobile and surrounding areas are quickly becoming known for its music quality venues with an emphasis on “listening” (e.g.,The Frog Pond at Blue Moon Farm in nearby Silverhill, AL.).
The audience that filled all the seats and tables at Pennington’s Listening Room were there to listen and enjoy the one-time Mobilian, Wes Lee, as he performed two sets of music. This was his first time to perform solo in Mobile after several years. The night was somewhat of homecoming and the people in the audience were listening.
We encourage everyone to visit the Wes Lee official website, his social media sites and by all means purchase his music. If you get the opportunity to see him perform live, do yourself a favor and do so. Also, he will be returning to the road with the House Party & Traveling Road Show in the very near future.
The Listening Room of Mobile, AL has several musicians booked to perform. Pennington, a huge fan of music, has many good ideas in store for the venue too. The Line encourages all to go see for yourself what makes the place special and watch it continue to move in the right direction. We wish the very best for success of the venue as it continues to grow. We are all winners, if that success is met. Thanks Jim!
……and thank you, Wes. It was a real pleasure to visit with you again.
© The Southland Music Line. 2015. All rights reserved