I was a little jealous when my brother told me he had tickets for the Albert Lee’s 70th birthday bash in London this coming march. But I’m no longer jealous – although I’d still like to go to that show – as I was lucky enough to attend the equivalent show at the Canyon Club in Agoura Hills this week. A pretty great night with a lot of highlights and some things I’ll never forget – John Jorgenson trying and succeeding to keep up with Albert on Country Boy will live with me for a while. I’d expected a big presence of the Everly’s after the sad loss of Phil last week –Peter Asher and Albert dueting on Let It Be Me was chicken skin – but it was Buddy Holly who had the honor of the most featured artist – with a great versions of Well Alright – again with Peter Asher, Lawrence Juber and Albert’s Raining in my heart, and Albert’s lovely solo piano (don’t you just hate him) version of Learning The Game.
Here’s a run down of some of what you missed…
Rosie Flores kicking it on Long White Cadillac – with Albert of course and Clem Burke on drums, followed by Peter Asher who after his Buddy and Everly’s songs finished with World Without Love – Peter was great, with very funny stories especially one about why the Brits thought they understood American music better than the Yanks. In his mind the best example of this was when Little Richards Tutti Frutti was #1 in the UK over here you had Pat Boone’s version! He may have something there! The Wrecking Crew’s Don Peake was also on stage for this set – Albert mentioned he’d first met Don playing with the Everly’s (a job that Albert later had) in the early 60’s in London. After Peter we had another Brit – Denny Laine – do a great version of Go Now. He still sounds exactly the same – but this was really a standout for Albert’s solo. Great stuff.
Then more Jorgenson, this time with bandmates Hillman, Petersen, Maness et al and the full Desert Rose Band doing Love Reunited, He’s Back and I’m Blue, Summer Wind and an amazing version of The Price I Pay with Albert, John J and Jay Dee Maness going at it. Too cool.
Then Albert did some solo piano stuff – and brought out Fred Tackett for Jimmy Webb’s Highwayman. Then onto Emmylou and Rodney and a short greatest hits – Luxury Liner, Pancho and Lefty, Til I gain control again and Ain’t Living Long Like This – all sounding fresh and what a great band and what a pleasure to see them in a reasonably small space – the ubiquitous John Jorgenson was on bass this time, and Jim Cox on piano did a great Glen Harding impersonation. Actually he was terrific all night. Not surprisingly the quality of the musicians was insane. It took me three days to want to pick up a guitar again. And I'm not sure I've seen Emmylou have this much fun in years!
Then it quieted down for Ramblin’ Jack Elliot and Scarlett Rivera doing San Francisco Bay and Don’t Think Twice. This gave us all a little bit of time to catch our breath. And we needed it as we then had Jack Shit to contend with – doing their signature Hello, Hello song, a version of Devil In Disguise (a little cheeky I thought given who had just been on stage), a version of Buck’s Tiger By The Tail with Albert and finishing off with a power trio version of I’m Coming Home which wouldn’t have been out of place in Flint MI in 1972. Loved Pete Thomas’s suit too. Very understated. Then it slowed it right down with a very pretty version of Raining In My Heart from Lawrence Juber and Albert. Then it was, for me at least, the surprise of the night. While My Gujitar Gently Weeps with Albert, John J, Jerry Donahue and Lawrence Juber on guitars. This was really pretty amazing. With everyone taking turns and showing off their different styles - JD doing his nut string pulls, Juber on a Les Paul, Jorgenson taking off and throwing out notes and Albert doing what Albert does. Unbelievable stuff.
Then it was time for Albert’s birthday celebration – a cake with the audience joining in and onto a solo set with Albert doing Spellbound, a horn driven Gumbo and closing out with his anthem, a frantic Country Boy with Albert taking it home in style and asking everyone else to come along.
It was a long night – nearly 4 hours of amazing music and I didn’t get home until after 1AM – which I don’t do that often. Then again there’s not much I would go and see that I would stay up that late for anymore….this was definitely worth it!
I’m sure the London show will be just as amazing and his UK friends like Chas and Dave, Chris Farlowe, etc will be out in force but it is going to be hard to beat what we saw this week in Agoura. Now I’m waiting for the DVD!
Thanks to John Jorgenson for the photo - all my iPhone pics came out poorly so I took the liberty of borrowing one...