Debut CD, Due September 17
New Album from New Orleans-Based Bluesman Features Special Guests Kim Wilson and Johnny Moeller of
The Fabulous Thunderbirds
ANNAPOLIS, MD – Severn Records announces a September 17 release date for Play One for Me, the label debut CD from New Orleans-based blues guitarist/singer Bryan Lee, recorded at Severn’s new state-of-the-art studios in Annapolis. Severn Records is distributed in the U.S. by City Hall Records.
Play One for Me was produced by Kevin Anker, David Earl and Steve Gomes and features Bryan Lee’s powerfully soulful vocals and stinging guitar backed by the label’s studio house band of Anker on keyboards, Gomes on bass, and Robb Stupka on drums, augmented by special guests Kim Wilson (harmonica) and Johnny Moeller (rhythm guitar) of The Fabulous Thunderbirds. Horns and strings on the new album were arranged and conducted by Willie Henderson.
The new disc’s 10 tracks are a solid mix of five Bryan Lee originals and covers of such songs as Bobby Womack’s “When Love Begins (Friendship Ends),” Howlin Wolf’s “Evil” (with a guest harmonica performance by Kim Wilson), Freddie King’s “It’s Too Bad (Things Are Going So Tough),” Dennis Geyer’s “Straight to Your Heart” and a beautiful rendition of the George Jackson classic, “Aretha (Sing One for Me).”
“I want to thank David Earl for believing in me, for pushing and challenging me and surrounding me with tremendous musicians,” Bryan Lee said about the new recording. “Thanks also to Kevin Anker on keys; Steve Gomes on bass; Willie Henderson for his beautiful charts; a young man I got to be close friends with, Johnny Moeller, on guitar; and the gentleman on the drums, Robb Stupka, who I used to work with in the ’70s – it was such an honor to work with him again. Last but not least, I want to give a special thanks to brother Kim Wilson on the harmonica.”
Although raised in a small Wisconsin town near the shores of Lake Michigan, Bryan Lee has been a New Orleans resident since 1982, so much so that he’s been called a “New Orleans Blues Institution;” and is also known as the “Braille Blues Daddy,” dubbed so because he’s been blind since the age of eight. Eric Clapton called Bryan Lee “one of the best bluesmen I have ever heard.” He's played the prestigious New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival for over 25 years and his new Severn CD marks his debut for an American label, with previous albums appearing on the Canadian imprint, Justin Time.
Growing up, Lee listened to clear channel station WLAC in Nashville and became enamored with the sound of the blues he heard on the radio. By the time he was 15, Lee was playing guitar in a variety of rock and blues-rock bands, and in his late teens he befriended legendary guitar slinger Luther Allison. In 1981, Lee and his band opened for Muddy Waters at Summerfest in Milwaukee, and he got a chance to talk with his hero backstage. After Lee told Muddy how honored he was to be opening for such a legend, Waters told the youngster, “Bryan, stay with this. One day you’re going to be a living legend.” Those words of encouragement have become an inspiration to Bryan Lee throughout his career.
Bryan Lee’s recognition in the Crescent City began in 1982 with a long residency at the Old Absinthe House in the French Quarter. One of the formative blues guitarists who caught his act was a young Kenny Wayne Shepherd, whose time sitting in with Lee’s band proved to be a revelatory experience for him. Many years later, Shepherd would return the favor by including Lee in his documentary, 10 Days Out: Blues from the Backroads, which was nominated for two Grammy Awards and won the 2008 Blues Music Award for Best DVD and the 2008 Keeping the Blues Alive Award under the category of Film, Television or Video. A follow-up album, Live in Chicago by Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Friends, was nominated for a Grammy in 2010 and won the Blues Music Award for Best Blues/Rock CD in 2011. Bryan received a Grammy nomination and also received a BMA for his contribution to this CD.
Lee, whose New Orleans studio became a victim of Hurricane Katrina’s wrath, was nominated for a Blues Music Award in 2008 for his Katrina Was Her Name CD, which also won the German Critics award that same year.
To download a hi-res photo of Bryan Lee (photo credit: Sam Holden Photography), click here: