Given the way Brits annexed American blues music and subsequently rock and roll, I shouldn’t be so surprised that Albert Lee captured the rockabilly flag, but it’s still unsettling. Lee has worked with the Crickets, the Everly Brothers, Emmylou Harris, and Buddy Emmons—all of whom could have the pick of guitarists—and now, leading his own band, he’s shakin’ & rattlin’ clubs everywhere, including New York’s City Winery.
Ably abetted by Cindy Cashdollar on steel guitar and J.T. Thomas on keyboards, Lee tore up about 15 songs and thankfully sprinkled in a few ballads so we could catch our breath. The band covered hits and deep cuts by such diverse artists as Fats Domino (“I’m Ready”), John Stewart (“Runaway Train”), the Everly Brothers (“No One Can Make My Sunshine Smile”), Jimmy Webb (“Highwayman”), Richard Thompson (“Tear Stained Letter”), Rodney Crowell (“’Til I Gain Control Again”) and Ray Charles (“Leave My Woman Alone”), among others. Lee played on Emmylou Harris’ 1977 recording of Gram Parsons’ “Luxury Liner” and reprised his performance—with interest—at the Winery; drummer Jason Smith earned a night’s pay on that tune alone. Hoyt Axton’s “Evangeline” was another standout in a long, well-curated and overall bravura performance.
– Suzanne Cadgène
All photos by George Kopp