The Lee Boys

ACL Festival

September 26, 2008


I've seen sacred steel before, but not like The Lee Boys. If I didn't know any better, I woulda thought they were trying to make my head explode. Their set was one barn burner after another. No rest and no slow or contemplative numbers. After each individual song, which normal bands would have saved as set closers, when I was thinking, "How are they gonna top that," or "How are they gonna get more rockin' than that," they got higher. The crowd made it so. The crowd willed it, giving more and more energy and getting looser, moving to the front and throwing up arms in the gospel tradition.

The Lee Boys are a six piece from Miami that fall into the sacred steel genre, which harbors pedal-steel playing gospel bands that like a little Hendrix and Van Halen with their scripture.

This group was a well-oiled machine. Essential to the party was the lead singer, a towel-waving man who, when not singing lyrics, was a cheerleader jumping up and down and encouraging the crowd and the band. The band was all about progressions. They had it down to a science, how to build up a song until it's out of your hands and running free. At the beginning of each song, I'm thinking, "Oh, this one could be cool," and then before I know it my hands are up and it's blast-off time, just pure unadulterated rockin' joy. "If this band doesn't stop being so good, I'm gonna have a heart attack." Like that.

Most essential to the set was Roosevelt, the pedal steel player. The whole time he sat there with a humble look, even when he was making Eric Clapton and Eddie Van Halen look like novices. I know that's a bold statement, but this guy was on another level, just exploding boundaries. Oh, so, so good. If I could see The Lee Boys during my lunch break every day, my life would be so much happier. Check them out at Voodoo. I'll be up there.

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