Telluride Blues & Brews: Lee Fields on Sunday

Telluride Blues & Brews: Lee Fields on Sunday

“With daring accompaniment, penetrating lyrics and a combined sound that bleeds triumph and lovesickness all at once, Fields and co. stand solidly apart.” NPR Music

Lee Fields

Lee Fields

He came of age in the era of be-ins and psychedelics. Of flower children, “Hair,” the Beatles, the Rolling Stones – and James Brown. In fact, so much about Lee Fields (born 1951) – look, sound, a warm and raw growl, even the grooves on his recordings – was so like Brown, he earned the nickname “Little J.B.”

Fields initially made his name and fame among die-hard funksters with a series of hard-hitting singles recorded on small labels starting in 1969, back when R&B was first beginning to give the drummer some action. From the late ‘90s to the present, fueled by his return to a raw, swaggering James Brown-style funk that combined, in the words of one critic, “soul, grit and honesty,” Fields became a leading light of the deep funk movement, producing a series of recordings that often trumped his early work.

During a prolific career spanning four decades, the North Carolina native amassed a prolific catalog of albums, touring and playing with such legends as Kool and the Gang, Sammy Gordon and the Hip-Huggers, O.V Wright, Darrell Banks, and Little Royal.

Fields’ catalogue ranges from James Brown-style funk to lo-fi blues, contemporary Southern soul and collaborations with French house DJ/producer Martin Solveig: the man has done it all. Today, with The Expressions, Truth & Soul’s house band, Fields continues to evolve, enmeshed into the group’s sweeping, string-laden, cinematic soul sound. Their first full-length together, My World, released in June 2009 , was  described by Pitchfork as “one smoking mother of an old-sound soul record” and a “throwback done right.”

“In a curious case of musical evolution, the older Fields becomes, the closer he gets to perfecting the sound of soul that he grew up with as a young man,” said music writer, scholar, and DJ Oliver Wang in an NPR story.

With Fields’ latest offering on Truth & Soul, Emma Jean, featuring country soul and bluesy rock, the musician has apparently kicked up his game:

“He’s 65 years old,” says Leon Michels, co-owner of Truth & Soul, and the man with the production credit on Emma Jean, “and so focused, and has been working non-stop–he’s singing the best he ever has.”


“A man who understands his musical strengths and plays to them with class, authority and soul searching intensity.”American Songwriter 


Joining a powerhouse line-up  on the Main Stage that includes The Violent Femmes, George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, Peter Frampton, The Meter Men, Buddy Guy, and Dumpstaphunk, Lee Fields performs at the 21st annual Telluride Blues & Brews Festival midday Sunday, 12:20 – 1:20 p.m.

To learn more, click the “play” button and listen to my conversation with Lee Fields.

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