Paul Levine has done it again. Southern Soul BBQ and Purple Hat Productions bring you another wonderful intimate weekend at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park. For this weekend (Friday, January 13, and Saturday, January 14), the key letters are LE.
As in LEe Boys and LEttuce, the two headliners for this special weekend. The Lee Boys, at the top of the sacred steel community, will be your hosts Friday evening. They will be joined by Troy Youngblood & the Soulfish, a superb Tampa group steeped in deep blues.
Saturday, Lettuce will blow your minds and melt your faces, all in the cozy confines of the Music Hall. Also on the bill are Jaw Gems and The Galbraith Group, an excellent blues and rock trio from St. Petersburg.
The inclusion of Southern BBQ means that there will be plenty of great food on hand as well. You can buy tickets for either night separately or a weekend ticket, which includes primitive camping. Think it might get too chilly for you? You can rent a cabin and golf cart for the weekend!
When we last saw The Lee Boys (06.10.16), we wrote:
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! 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!
Prepare to be impressed with Troy Youngblood & the Soulfish. We reviewed them 12.26.15:
For me, the only male vocalist in Florida who reaches me the way Youngblood does is J.J. Grey. Youngblood’s voice captivates you immediately, the deep rich tenor so strong, so clear, so emotive. He owned the room even during the soundcheck (which was one of the best numbers of the set: “Native Son”).
This band delivers a sound absolutely perfect to match Youngblood’s heartfelt lyrics. Matt Salvador and Sean C. Sinback on drums and bass drive the music with precision. Thee Eloquent Barbarian is an excellent keyboard player; he plays with it tilted forward so that people can see, which is truly great, since the keyboard is the one instrument usually not visible (the actual keyboards). He has an amazing baritone voice and also plays a mean harmonica.
Troy plays guitar, and he plays it well, but this night he handed the fancy stuff off to a superb young slinger who made a huge impression on the packed house, George Pennington III. I suspect most people share my desire to see him again, and soon! Thoughtful solos, some shredding and a wicked wah-wah pedal were all in evidence.
And there is Bob Feckner, who adds amazing colors and layers with his flugelhorn and his trumpet. They mesh so well with every song. This is indeed a complete band.
“New Orleans Blues” closed with a great “When the Saints…” coda. “Just Another Day” digs to the bottom of your soul: “Just another day… in my life,” and he followed that up with “What the Hell Am I Doing Here.” More evidence: “Blues in My Blood.” This man can write and sing, and this band just plain rocks.
“Molly’s Door” is Donna’s favorite: “Here comes that Chris Brown song!” And the band closed the set with “Devil Smells Like Bourbon when she wakes up in the morning, and she’s lying next to you.” Thee Eloquent Barbarian had another great piano solo, and Troy lit this one up with his wah-wah.
Lettuce are the masterminds behind Fool’s Paradise. Here was our review of their Bear Creek Bayou 10.01.16 set:
LETTUCE. LETTUCE. So nice, you’ve got to say it twice. Best set I’ve ever heard from the Empire State boys. They came out flame-throwing, Ryan Zoidis with a wicked tenor solo to get things started. Nigel Hall sat in on synthesizer, complementing Neal Evans’ Hammond B3. Jesus Coomes and Adam Deitch are a magical rhythm section. They hit Afrobeat, slowed things down with Benny Bloom standing out on trumpet, then blew up “Squadlive,” with Medeski joining the party.
A slow, soulful “Everybody Wants to Change the World” was a great surprise, and they closed with “Do It Like You Do.” Did I mention this band features both Shmeeans AND Kraz?
The Galbraith Group shared the bill with The Lee Boys on 06.10.16:
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. For this performance, they invited Matt Walker to sit in for the show. (And, for this show, Danny Clemmons was on vocals.)
The Galbraith Group wasted no time, getting right to it with a superb cover of “Use Me.” 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.
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.
We haven’t had the pleasure of hearing Jaw Gems yet! they play “drip hop / ratchet jazz” and will be playing eight dates with Lettuce in January on their Mt. Crusher tour. From their profile:
Jaw Gems, an electronic outfit from Portland, Maine, is a collective of young, experimental producers bringing beat-music – traditionally programmed and played on samplers – to a live band setting. The mesmerizing result is a harmonic convergence.
So there you have it: great music in an intimate setting at the most wonderful place on earth. You owe it to yourself. Go. Relax. Dance.