Bryan Lee
Live at the Old Absinthe Bar … Friday Night
Justin Time 100-2

Bryan Lee has done the impossible. His music doesn’t have a thing to do with New Orleans, and yet, until recently, he had one of the city’s steadiest gigs: four sets a night, five nights a week at the Old Absinthe Bar on Bourbon Street for 15 years! Lee and his band, the Jump Street Five, gave the blues-starved tourists everything they could ask for (God only knows how many CDs they’ve sold between sets).

They’re definitely good, but like most bar bands they’re also predictable. Fortunately, assuming you prefer the hard-rockin’, boogie-down, Buddy-Guy-on-Silvertone variety, Lee is a fine guitarist. He’s a poor man’s Roy Buchanan.

The playlist is loaded — overloaded, perhaps — with chestnuts: "Crosscut Saw," "The Sky Is Crying," "Five Long Years," Going Down," "Look on Yonder Wall," "Key to the Highway" and "Rock Me Baby." The big news here is that James Cotton, Frank Marino (the guitarist in Mahogany Rush) and Kenny Wayne Shepherd each sit in on two or three songs.

Shepherd fits in well. Marino comes on heavy handed. Cotton stumbles — his harmonica solo on "Five Long Years" should have been edited out or taped over. It’s awful.

Lee’s fans won’t care. They want guitar solos and they want ’em loud. Lee and his friends deliver on both counts.

— Dave Ranney

This page and all contents are © 1998 by Blues Access,
Boulder, CO, USA.