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Wes Lee - The Shack Sessions

Wes Lees Music

10 tracks

Shamefully, I must admit I had not heard of Wes Lee prior to listening to this CD. When I played it I went in cold- no prior knowledge, no research. When I heard it I could not believe that there was an old traditional Delta bluesman whom I had missed hearing about. Stripped down and authentic blues, recorded at Tush Hog Shack in Greenwood, Mississippi and (as I found out) played by a guy who is not even approaching middle age.

Lee moved to Hattiesburg about 6 years ago. Having toured with Mississippi based Mr. Tone & the Blues Funk Revival from 1997 to 2002 he then embarked to St Louis to follow music’s call and adding surf and rockabilly to his blues background. His return to Mississippi to reignite his true love in music and has released his third and with this his fourth albums. His prior album “Live and Alone” was a lot f original stuff and like this was solo. Lee released this CD on the cusp of the 100th anniversary of Robert Johnson’s birth and he delivers 9 traditional blues tracks and finishes up with an original entitled “Cryin’”. Top to bottom, the man and his guitar stand up well to the scrutiny of solo acoustic music.

Lee superbly handles the fingerings of Johnson standards like “Crossroads Blues”, “Kind Heated Woman”, “Malted Milk” and “From Four Til Late”. He is deft with Big Bill Broonzy classics like “Hey Hey”, and “Key to the Highway”. The acoustic guitar work is impeccable on these cuts. Elmore James’ “It Hurts Me Too” gets a great cover and excellent slide work on a resonator as does Muddy Water’s “Can’t Be Satisfied”. The traditional “John the Revelator” brought me to church- it was spiritual and very moving. His vocals are gritty, guttural and evoke the sounds of real original blues. His vocal work is exceptionally intriguing. The new cut fits in with the standards quite well. The sound and presentation are classic and traditional yet fresh and new. Good stuff!

I don’t have any criticism for or bad things to say about this CD. I liked it and it was fun. Yes, it is stuff we’ve all heard thousands of times, but the guy can play and sing and I really enjoyed it. He is well schooled in the blues traditions and is an outstanding musician, singer and songwriter. Well worth a listen, and I might have to track down a copy of his last CD, too; what I sampled sounded pretty darn good, too!

Reviewer Steve Jones is a Board Member of the Crossroads Blues Society and is a long standing blues lover. He is a retired Navy commander who served his entire career in nuclear submarines. In addition to working in his civilian career, he writes for and publishes the bi-monthly newsletter for Crossroads, chairs their music festival and works with their Blues In The Schools program.

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