Near the end of Bobby Lee Rodgers’ set at the Downtown River Jam, he called a young lady on stage to sing a duet with him that was lovely. They she called another young lady on stage to join a rave-up version of “When the World Comes Tumbling Down.” It was electrifying. Later, BLR told me they were Juanita Parkerurban and Myrna Stallworth from the Parker Urban Band out of Jacksonville. Talking about the whole band, he said, “They’re great musicians… and great people.”
Let’s just say my estimate fell waaaaaay short. It was a magnificent night.
I arrived late (again), but I was in time to catch a wonderful song called “Trust Someone.” “You’ve gotta trust someone, sometimes more, sometimes less.” It was incredibly powerful. Juanita and Myrna were testifying, and it was glorious. Band leader John Parkerurban was driving the sextet with chunky, funky chords and great solos.
It’s funny how your brain “works” sometimes. I was sure Juanita said the next tune was “Fire Muscle.” OK, no. “Fire in My Soul” makes a lot more sense, another great song. The coda of “Tears of Love” incorporated the climax of “Whipping Post,” and John delivered it beautifully.
The rhythm section sounded great all night, but John Mortensen and James Holloway (bass and drums) peaked on the encore, “What Is Hip?” And Ricky Alessi’s keyboards added wonderful color to every tune. I can’t wait to see them again (and arrive on time!).
I was already filled with the spirit, but I knew that the Lee Boys, who call Perrine home, would take all of us over the top. I had seen them numerous times before, and quite a few of those at Skipper’s, but none so moving as their August appearance at the WMNF Groovefest, hosted by Thor and Wayne of the In the Groove show.
The Lee Boys, a band out of the sacred steel tradition of the church, are magnificent any time, but, when Keith Lee joins brother Derrick at the microphone, they move to sensational. Derrick and I compared notes at the August show, and we had the same thought, word for word: Keith is the special sauce. He was the special sauce again this night. He is a joy-filled creature whose spirit envelops everyone around him. The band finds (somehow) that extra gear. And Derrick wears the greatest smile. Not to mention he has this great handclap and other hand motions I always enjoy.
What better way to launch their set than the joyous “Let’s Celebrate,” with Chris Johnson taking care of the sacred steel. (As timing would have it, Roosevelt Collier, their usual pedal steel player, was in town the previous night on a mini-tour with the Heavy Pets.) From there, it was non-stop. Fitting then that “He’s Been Good to Me” should be sandwiched around MJ’s “Don’t Stop (‘Til You Get Enough)” was next up.
Al Lee was sounding great on guitar and reminding us about Miami Killian, while Kyron was filling in on bass, doing a superb job. Derrick and Al have an amazing roster of musicians who can deliver at any time. And there is simply not enough to say about Big Easy on drums. His time is spectacular, always on the one, powering the music to unbelievable heights.
And then there was Keith. I am simply in awe of his spirit… and the spirit of all the Lee Boys.
When it got to the “Superstition” part of the show, we were thrilled to see John and Juanita Parkerurban and Myrna climb back on stage. Everybody took a turn with the Stevie classic, which always gloriously heads straight into “We Want the Funk.” Truer words…
The ladies sounded wonderful on the Staples’ “I’ll Take You There,” and John closed out the set with the Lee Boys.
Great to see Dean and Paul.
Thank you, Keith. Thank you, Lee Boys. Thank you, Parker Urban Band. Thank you.
[PUB: Don’t Leave a Good Man, Life, Sunny. Can’t Take Back, Chicken & Rice, Bedtime Melodies, Hero’s Journey, Trust Someone, Fire in My Soul, Tears of Love, What is Hip?]
[LB SET 1: Let’s Celebrate, He’s Been Good to Me > Don’t Stop (‘Til You Get Enough) > He’s Been Good to Me, Can’t Tell It All, Sinner Man, When the Saints Come Marching In > I Believe; SET 2: Superstition > We Want the Funk > Superstition, I’ll Take You There, Testify, I’m Not Tired > Dance with Me]