Albert Lee's 70th Birthday Bash – The Canyon Club (Agoura Hills, California – Jan. 9, 2014)

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...

Views: 543

Comment by Stuartstorm on January 14, 2014 at 10:55am

Well what can I say that many of my all time favorits sharing together one stage!!! Thinking of traveling to London ...!!

Comment by Arlene on January 14, 2014 at 4:27pm

Thanks for the review.  I so wish I could gave attended this show.  BTW-- the "impersonation" on piano would have been of Glen D (no period) Hardin, not Harding, who was in Elvis's band, as well as Emmylou Harris's.

Comment by David Osborne on January 14, 2014 at 4:55pm

Arlene - you are correct. Damn spell check....I didn't know about the lack of punctuation however. You learn something everyday.


Comment by Terry Roland on January 15, 2014 at 9:15am

Thanks for posting this David!  I would love to see DRB again. That would've been worth the price of admission right there....So many great artists have been touched by Albert Lee's music.  The first time I heard John Stewart's Runaway Train was at Universal in the late 80's. It was before Rosanne Cash had released King's Record Shop. I just remember being blown away by the song-which I didn't know was written by John at the time-and that lead was Albert Lee. Then, during the break..she opened for Willie....I was sitting watching people walk up the center aisle and playing 'find the celebrities-a lame-game I'd play to pass the time whereby I identify celebrity lookalikes.  I turned to my friend and said...."Look, it's Eric Clapton!"  The guy walking up the aisle toward us bore a strong resemblance to Clapton. Then as he came closer to us, it dawned on me...It WAS Eric Clapton!   I think he was there because of Albert. Later Dennis Hopper and Paul Butterfield came out for Willie's gospel finish.....

I know, now, you've got some great memories from that show.  I wish I coulda been there!   thanks again for the excellent rundown....

Comment by David Osborne on January 15, 2014 at 9:23am

Terry - thanks. I've from the UK and was lucky enougth to see Albert in Heads, Hands and Feet - and have seen him many times since. He just gets better I think....The best way to describe his playing is to watch Dave Edmunds face on the Born Fighter youtube video - when Albert is playing sweet little lisa in the studio. He's just a monster....

Comment by Alan Baily on January 17, 2014 at 3:49am

Any chance this will be available in recorded form?

Comment by Jack Kidd on January 17, 2014 at 1:12pm

David, great review of what obviously was a superb way to celebrate Alberts 70th. birthday. I too saw Albert in HH&F in the early 70's mostly around Windsor & West London, also saw him with Chris Farlowe & the T'birds at the Club A Go-Go in Newcastle several times. In more recent times I go and see him either with Hogans Heroes or Bill Wymans Rhythm Kings, whenever they are in the area (Northumberland) and fortunately  Albert is appearing with Hogans Heroes in Berwick-on-Tweed in May. He never fails to amaze and entertain, coming across as a true gent. I'm aware of his London birthday bash, but I'll give that a miss and wait for Berwick. 

Alan, I understand that there will be a DVD coming out in respect of his 70th. celebrations.


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Created by No Depression Feb 17, 2009 at 9:06pm. Last updated by No Depression Sep 24, 2012.