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 [ 2 posts ] 
 THE LEE BOYS -- TESTIFY 
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Wanee Master
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Joined: Tue Feb 16, 2010 4:52 pm
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Location: Brandon, Florida
Post THE LEE BOYS -- TESTIFY
“Do you mind if we take you to church?” asks Derrick Lee, lead singer for the Lee Boys, a sacred steel band out of Miami that has exploded into the jamband scene with their incredible mix of gospel, funk and jam. “Testify” is the group’s second CD, but it represents a huge step forward from their first, the 2005 Arhoolie release “Say Yes!”
In between releases, the Lee Boys have shared the stage with the Allman Brothers, Gov’t Mule and hundreds of other bands prominent on the music scene while continuing to collaborate with other sacred steel superstars such as the Campbell Brothers. They have played dozens of music festivals, often as headliners. Their Sunday morning sets are the stuff of legend. They make a joyful noise that touches everyone who hears them, lifting spirits and funkifying the soul.
Often, studio CDs by bands simply cannot match their live performances. “Testify” is an exception to that rule. Matt Grondin’s superb production and the addition of a great horn section and Matt Slocum on keyboards make this a spectacular outing for the Lee Boys. The disk starts traditionally with “Smile,” penned by bassist Alvin “Little Al” Cordy. Then “Going To Glory” comes roaring out of the gate, highlighting Cordy’s bass and Roosevelt Collier, arguably the best pedal and lap steel player anywhere, period. Seven of the eleven tunes on the disk are concert staples, shorter here than in person, of course, but no less intense. Roosevelt kicks this one into high gear.
Warren Haynes of Gov’t Mule and the Allman Brothers is a big fan, which is why “Testify” is on Haynes’ Evil Teen label and why it was available as a package deal with the Gov’t Mule Georgia Bootleg box set. And it is why Haynes plays on “I’m Not Tired” and trades lyrics with Derrick Lee. Roosevelt again tears it up. Haynes also adds guitar on “Praise You.”
The horn section (Mark Mullins, trombone; Barney Floyd, Brian Graber, trumpets; Jason Mingledorff, tenor saxophone) gives “So Much To Live For” a great opening kick. The song transitions into one of the deep groove jams the Lee Boys are famous for; it is impossible not to sway with the rhythm and the spirit. “Always By My Side” and the title track are boosted by the addition of Jimmy Herring (Widespread Panic and countless other efforts) on guitar. Herring and Haynes mesh seamlessly with the Lee Boys on these songs, such is their mutual respect.
“Testify” (the song) also highlights the great songwriting of guitarist and vocalist Alvin Lee and the on-the-one drumming of Earl “Big Easy” Walker. It also again showcases Roosevelt Collier, one of the most sought-after guest artists on the scene. He is often an artist-at-large at music festivals, doing sit-ins with acts as diverse as the Traveling McCourys, the Dead Kenny Gs, Ike Stubblefield and the Allman Brothers.
“Sinnerman” is another traditional-style tune that launches into a funk-filled Stevie Wonder-inspired rave-up. That is followed by the CD’s surprise, a magnificent reading of “Wade In the Water,” featuring Gia Wyre on vocals. In fact, Wyre and Jonathan Walker, Glenesa Lee and LaTonya Bethune add great vocals throughout the disk to enhance the great singing of Derrick, Keith and Alvin Lee.
Derrick Lee’s “Praise You” (with Haynes and Roosevelt again intertwining) and “Feel the Music” both feature Derrick’s soothing lead vocal. “Feel the Music” also features a well-deserved guitar solo from producer Grondin. The disk closes with an Andre Crouch cover (all other tunes except “Wade In the Water” were written by the Lee Boys or traditional tunes arranged by them), “We Need to Hear From You,” a great return to the sacred steel tradition.
“Testify” is a remarkable statement from the Lee Boys, six gentlemen who talk the talk AND walk the walk.

_________________
"Bring the band on down behind me, boys." -- FZ

"Remember: music is a religion. You have to pray every day."
-- Jose' Luis "Cheo" Pardo, Los Amigos Invisibles


Sat Nov 24, 2012 2:53 pm Profile
Wanee Master
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Joined: Tue Feb 16, 2010 4:52 pm
Posts: 5686
Location: Brandon, Florida
Post Re: THE LEE BOYS -- TESTIFY
There was a time when I tried to determine the “best” musical performances I had ever seen. More recently, I have espoused a theory I call “As Good As It Gets.” Or you might call it “It Doesn’t Get Any Better Than This.” In the past couple of years, I have seen dozens of shows where the music, perhaps for a part, sometimes for the entire set, is simply, IN THE MOMENT, as good as it gets. I suspect this happens for most music lovers, regardless of their tastes.
Which brings us to the Lee Boys at Skipper’s Smokehouse (November 23rd). Just back from two weeks on the road opening for Gov’t Mule, the Lee Boys are holding CD release parties for their superb new disk “Testify.” So, of course, they open up with a new song not on the CD, “Early in the Morning!” By the time they segued into “Going to Glory,” things were ridiculously out of control. Roosevelt Collier was stratospheric all night, and the Lee Boys, exhorted by Derrick Lee in his dual vocalist/cheerleader role, kept blasting toward the heavens.
The only sad note was that vocalist Keith Lee took ill and had to leave. We certainly wish him a speedy recovery.
In addition to tunes from “Testify,” several other new tunes (well, new to me) were unveiled, each one drawing great crowd approval. If I had to select a highlight, it was the tune “Sinnerman,” which segues into an incredible funk workout based on Stevie Wonder’s “I Wish.” Add to that the vamp that occurs as “Dance with Me” transitions into a rave-up.
And a shout-out to Ted Lukas and the Misled, whose opening set was excellent! Be sure to check them out as well.
One other sad note: No tapers were there, and I kicked myself again for not investing in the equipment to preserve such outings.

_________________
"Bring the band on down behind me, boys." -- FZ

"Remember: music is a religion. You have to pray every day."
-- Jose' Luis "Cheo" Pardo, Los Amigos Invisibles


Sat Nov 24, 2012 2:54 pm Profile
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