In a recent interview with us, Albert Lee pointed out that the main ingredient missing in today’s music is the ability to swing. What does he mean by that term? His evening at the Canyon Club on the 25th was a workshop on the definition.
Opening up the evening was Mark MacKay’s band of Joe Lanham/g, Matt Carter/dr, Des Brewer/b, Jordi/g-banjo and Rayssa/voc as the leader delivered a half hour of brainy country bar band material. He had a rich and gritty voice on his own upbeat “Road to Mustang” and he growled with the rich vocal harmonies of the team on “You Go” while Jordi picked and grinned on the banjo during “Better in Love.” A romantic take of “Witchita Lineman” showed off his wanderlust, while his guitar chops were in full bloom on the stomping “Pick Up the Pieces.” Impressive band!
A guitarist famed for his role as a sideman, Albert Lee demonstrated the qualities that has made him a favorite among the cognizant. Opening up with the upbeat and danceable “I’m Ready” and “Two Step” he and his team of JT Thompson/key, Will MacGregor/b and Jason Smith/dr swung like a tetherball tournament while Cindy Cashdollar supplied raindrops of steel stringed joy. Lee’s vocals, always an underrated pleasure, demonstrated why he has built a career with The Everly Brothers and Emmylou Harris as he delivered a pristine read of the Cumberland Gap classic “No One Can Make My Sunshine” and the thoughtful “A Song for The Life.”
As far as guitar playing, Lee showed why he was Eric Clapton’s choice sideman for years. Tearing through a shuffling boogie like ‘Leave My Woman Alone” or the two stepping “Luxury Liner” Lee’s solos were perfect mixes of melody, lyricism and infectious rhythm. And while most guitarists would prance up to front stage to show off their chops, Lee’s self-effacing demeanor had him always draw back during each time he took his six strings to task, making himself more focused on the music than himself. And when he and Cashdollar would volley back and forth like arrows in a battle scene from Braveheart as on the infectious “Country Boy,” Lee and company lived up to their closing song, as the audience was jitterbugging to the theme of the evening , “Tear It Up.”