WKDU 91.7fm Presents
Lee Fields & The Expressions
Vincent John, The Shacks
1026 Spring Garden St.
Philadelphia, PA, 19123
Doors 7:30 PM / Show 8:30 PM
This event is all ages
Lee Fields & The Expressions
“I feel that every human being’s purpose is to do what their inner voice says to do,” says Lee Fields. “And my inner voice, my driving force, wants me to put out music and keeping making better records.”
Apologies to the late, great James Brown, but you’d be hard pressed to find another singer who’s ever worked as hard as Fields, a man who’s been making soul and funk anthems since 1969.
Since that time, Fields has toured the world with musical legends like Kool and the Gang, Sammy Gordon and the Hip-Huggers, O.V Wright, Darrell Banks, and Little Royal. Recorded with French house DJ/producer Martin Solveig. And somehow found a newer, younger audience and become more prolific as the years transpire.
“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,” noted NPR music writer Oliver Wang (and that was back in 2009).. Now Fields returns with his most triumphant and honest record yet, Special Night, recorded with The Expressions and released on Brooklyn’s Big Crown Records.
Special Night follows the the critical success of his Truth & Soul recordings My World, Faithful Man and 2014’s Emma Jean — the last one American Songwriter hailing as “more than just a stroll down memory lane … it’s the sound of a man who understands his musical strengths and plays to them with class, authority and soul searching intensity.”
You’ll hear Fields flexing those strengths on Special Night. There’s some JB-style funk on there. And hints of Stax, Chess, Fame and Motown.
But this is not a throwback. Possessing a voice that’s equally raucous and tender, Fields crafts a truly honest, soulful work. “This is a record about what people do in real life,” says the singer. For one example, he cites the yearning “Work to Do,” which entails a “a guy going to counseling, drinking too much, apologizing to the old lady and trying to keep family together, doing the manly thing.”
Adds Fields: “When I record, I make every song like I actually mean it. I mean every word I say. On Special Night I’m talking to my lady — literally, expressing the way I feel. You can tell if a song is real or not. And every moment I’m recording, those moments are real.”
Meanwhile, album standout “Make This World” works both as militaristic funk and a cautionary tale about the health of the planet. “The world was designed to last indefinitely,” says Fields.
“And we’re the only living species on Earth who can alter that process. I’m hoping that song has a chain reaction, helps somebody put into action whatever contribution they can to change what the world is going through.”
Fields and his six-piece band will tour in the fall, where he notes the audiences seem tgrowing and changing. “I’m seeing a younger crowd,” he notes. “And that’s a blessing.”
As for his late success? Fields regrets nothing. “I was already talking to myself in the beginning of my career about the end of my career,” he says. “I was a little naive, so I told myself, ‘Think about the future in every song you make. Make things you can live with. Everything you do has consequences.’ And today, I live like I’ve always lived.”
A credo that continues with Special Night. “All the songs on that record have special meaning,” he says. “I hope people take a good listen to it and find the magic.”
“Vincent John has brought his experience as guitarist for Lee Fields & the Expressions to his solo record, infusing the proceedings with soulful, seductive R&B as well as an authentically retro dance feel. There is a funky desperation and honesty to John’s vocals on “Double Roulette” that is reminiscent of some of the dreamiest of 80’s power pop ballads, in particular those of another renowned guitarist and vocalist: the Purple One himself, Prince.”
- Justin Hernandez, Impose Magazine
The Shacks — equal parts Max Shrager and Shannon Wise singing in her soft whispered voice — sound like they’re playing alone with nobody watching. This dreamy, voyeuristic sound was born in a Queens, NY studio in 2014. And while they describe themselves as a rock band, don’t expect the conventional kind.
The story goes that Max brought Shannon to the studio. Max was playing guitar on a track produced by Leon Michels — the producer and co-founder of Big Crown Records — and Michels needed a vocalist. They put Shannon in the booth to try it out. It was her first time ever recording. Then, in one take, the song “Strange Boy” had a singer who completed the vibe. The Shacks were born.
There are elements of doo-wop and early, pre-Elvis rock in their musicianship. Combine that with a deeply personal songwriting approach and it’s a familiar-yet-fresh sound. Like The Five Keys met Neil Young and cut a record with Brigitte Bardot — but in English.
Here’s the thing: Max and Shannon are barely in their twenties. Most of their musical influences are from before they were born. It’s contradictions like this that signify something intriguing is happening with The Shacks.
Max and Shannon met while going to the same NYC high school. By that time, Max was already a musical wunderkind.
Raised in Princeton, NJ, at fourteen Max emailed Gabe Roth of Daptone Records with a rough, home-recorded demo. By seventeen, he had penned the lead single, “Sinner,” on Naomi Shelton and the Gospel Queens’ 2014 Cold World LP.
Shannon comes from a strong musical pedigree. Her father, a producer, ran a Manhattan recording studio, and her mother is a singer-songwriter. Artists and bands of all stripes passed through her life growing up. While her history isn’t yet as extensive as Max’s, she’s writing it right now. Her infectious, eclectic voice and songwriting skills are testaments to her remarkable natural talent.
Their first record together, entitled Haze and forthcoming on Big Crown Records, is jointly produced by Shrager and Michels. Each song sounds both like an exploration and reflection of the relationship between Shannon and Max. You can hear a kind of invigorating creativity between them — songs written for and about each other, trying to express the inexpressible aspects of youth and love.
“We just want people to get excited about real music again,” says Max. “When we record we try to capture what’s happening — in our lives, things between us, something in the studio that day, just something honest. Not something pieced together and hyperreal.”
In a modern culture where most music is manufactured and artificial, Max Shrager and Shannon Wise want to introduce their generation to a more honest kind of music. A kind that’s written from life and made with integrity and value. And all this before either of them can rent a car.