I often advance a theory about music being, in the moment, as good as it gets. There has been a lot of that going on recently, including shows by Flat Land, the Stan Tyler Band, and the Purple Hatter’s Ball pre-party, for which I am truly thankful.
One show recently not only met that mark but also was as moving a night of music as I can ever remember. The Lee Boys were playing the Dunedin Brewery (June 10) with Roosevelt Collier, and the Galbraith Group opened. It was a most remarkable, memorable evening.
The Galbraith Group was so magnificent that I could have gone home happy — make that ecstatic — if they were the only band playing that night. I didn’t catch up with this band until a year ago, two sisters and a brother. All three of them are superb players: Josh on guitar, Ashley on bass, and Taylor on drums. Josh used to handle vocals, but at some point earlier in the year they connected with Danny Clemmons, the fine vocalist for Holey Miss Moley.
It was a match made in musical heaven. It gave the band a great new dimension, and the chemistry is perfect. For this performance, they invited Matt Walker to sit in for the show. I had never seen Walker until seven days earlier, when he sat in with Boxcar Hollow; we were all blown away by his guitar prowess. He has also played bass for the Betty Fox Band.
The Galbraith Group wasted no time, getting right to it with a superb cover of “Use Me.” Clemmons absolutely nails these vocals. They turned Walker loose first, then Josh on slide. For this song and the entire set, you can take this to the bank: Ashley and Taylor are one badass rhythm section.
“Fiyo on the Bayou” was next, Josh soloing, then wrangling with Walker. “Get Back” was a fun surprise, with a great bass solo from Ashley, then Taylor whipping it into a swing tune. She plays with the jazz grip on the left hand, unlike many rock drummers these days. When the tune was done, Clemmons said, “This rhythm section is the best in Florida, and certainly best looking.” No argument from me!
As the next tune emerged, it turned itself into a novel arrangement of “Compared to What,” similar to the “Use Me” vamp. Walker and Josh soloed. Then Clemmons asked us, “ How many of you like the blues?!” The roar gave way to Booker T.’s “Born Under a Bad Sign.” About two-thirds of the way through, Taylor shoved the song into double-time: more badass-ery.
Clemmons then dedicated the next song to… me! [Blushing] What followed was a nice take on Jethro Tull’s “Teacher.” Walker soloed, while Ashley was blowing out a wicked bass line similar to “Deuce” (yep, KISS). Josh soloed, then Ashley and Taylor turned it into a swing tune, and finally Josh went all outer spacey trippy. It was awesome.
A wild intro led into “I’m a Ram,” with more Walker and then Josh on slide, and they finished with “Hard Times.” The brewery was slammed, and that was about the best crowd response I’ve seen there — for the opening band! Glad to hear they will be part of Roosevelt Collier’s Summer Splashdown at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park (July 29-31).
Did I mention Roosevelt Collier? Because he came to prominence with The Lee Boys, the best sacred steel band in the land (I’ll entertain discussion about The Campbell Brothers). Recently, because of the great touring demands on Collier, The Lee Boys have had other pedal steel players with them, most notably Chris Johnson, a superb player.
But this was a reunion, and it was magical. In the 20 times I have heard this remarkable band, they have perhaps played tighter sets, but never have I heard them jam out so incredibly as this night. And credit must go first to the amazing rhythm section. Lil’ Al Cordy has been blowing up the bass for years. Earl “Big Easy” Walker is recovering (we’re glad to hear) from some medical issues. In his absence, vocalist Derrick Lee’s son, Derrick, Jr., was at the kit. Those two had a superb evening.
The Lee Boys, in addition to the rhythm section, are brothers Derrick and Keith on vocals and Al on guitar and backing vocals. Collier is their cousin. This is family. In the best way possible.
As they sat down, Collier began a long, nasty intro that was clearly heading into “Goin’ to Glory,” and, boy did we ever! (Video of the song after intro here.) It was truly glorious. And, once again, I have never, ever heard a man so filled with the spirit as Keith Lee. Sometimes Derrick just stands back and marvels; I do, too.
“Testify,” the title track from the most recent Lee Boys album, was next, with Derrick reminded us that everybody needs to testify some time. They followed with “You Can Tell It All,” which included a great rhythm section feature. Derrick, Jr. was locked and loaded for this set.
The “Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough” jam simply exploded. Collier loves wailing away on this King of Pop tune, and the jam just kept rolling and rolling. Derrick then asked a question we’d heard earlier, “Can we play the blues?” Keith was simply magic on “Stormy Monday.” With Collier as a focus, it is often easy to lose sight of the great contribution of Al on guitar; he sparkled here.
They jammed through “Don’t Keep Me Waiting” and “I Won’t Let You Go,” and the dance floor was shaking and grooving and wall to wall. Finally, it was time to throw the brewery into a frenzy. How do you do that? Start a vamp that sounds like “Give Up the Funk” but turns into “(Standing on) Shaky Ground!” Collier and Lil’ Al dueled at one point, and then the jam just careened skyward.
And that’s how you go to glory!
It was a magical night for all involved. Thanks to Michael Lyn Bryant for continually bringing great music to the Dunedin Brewery, Chris Fama for great sound, The Lee Boys for graciously greeting fans, taking pictures and videos after the show, and the Galbraith Group for bringing their A+ game to the party.