Leon Russell

Leon Russell

Leon Russell is a music legend and perhaps the most accomplished and versatile musician in the history of rock 'n roll. In his distinguished and unique 50 year career, he has played on, arranged, written and/or produced some of the best records in popular music.

Leon has played on pop, rock, blues, country, bluegrass, standards, gospel, and surf records. As a session musician, arranger, producer, singer, songwriter, pianist, guitarist, record company owner, bandleader, and touring musician, he has collaborated with hundreds of artists, including Glen Campbell, Joe Cocker, Willie Nelson, Edgar Winter, George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Ringo Starr, John Lennon, J.J. Cale, David Gates, Bruce Hornsby, Hal Blaine, Tommy Tedesco, Bobby "Boris" Pickett, B.B. King, Freddie King, Bill Wyman, Steve Cropper, Carl Radle, Chuck Blackwell, Don Preston, Jesse Ed Davis, Rita Coolidge, Gram Parsons, Barbra Streisand, Ike & Tina Turner, Ricky Nelson, Herb Alpert, Frank Sinatra, Aretha Franklin, Ann-Margret, Dean Martin, Marvin Gaye, Dave Mason, Steve Winwood, and groups such as Delaney & Bonnie and Friends, The Monkees, The Astronauts, The Accents, The Fencemen, The Ventures, The Beach Boys, The Byrds, Jan & Dean, Gary Lewis & The Playboys, Paul Revere & The Raiders, The Rolling Stones, The Ronettes, The Crystals, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, The Everly Brothers, The Righteous Brothers, The Flying Burrito Brothers, The Tractors and on and on and on…

Born in southwest Oklahoma in 1942, Leon began piano lessons at age 4. He was playing in Tulsa nightclubs at the age of 14. After graduating from high school, Leon's band, The Starlighters, went on the road with Jerry Lee Lewis for almost two months. Leon left Tulsa at the age of 17 for Los Angeles where he began playing in the L.A. clubs and eventually became one of the best session musicians in Hollywood. He worked with the best Hollywood producers and top musicians in the business.

Leon became part of an elite group of studio musicians called the Wrecking Crew and played on hundreds of hit records in the 1960's. He was part of studio groups such as The Routers and The Super Stocks. The Routers recorded the huge hit "Let's Go" and The Super Stocks recorded surf and hot rod tunes. In 1964, Leon was a member of the the house band on the Shindig! show on ABC television which showcased the top pop acts.

Leon built a recording studio in his home in 1967 where he and Marc Benno recorded songs which were released on two critically acclaimed records as the 'Asylum Choir'. Leon co-produced, arranged, and played piano, organ, and guitar on Joe Cocker's second album, 'Joe Cocker!' in 1969. He also recorded and toured with 'Delaney & Bonnie & Friends'. Leon founded Shelter Records with partner Denny Cordell and released Leon's first solo album, "Leon Russell" in May, 1970. It included Beatles George Harrison and Ringo Starr, Rolling Stones Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts, Steve Winwood, Eric Clapton, and Klaus Voorman. The album contained classic Leon songs, 'A Song For You', along with 'Hummingbird', and 'Delta Lady'. Shelter Records was home for not only Leon but many other artists such as Freddie King, Don Nix, J.J. Cale, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, The Gap Band, Dwight Twilley and Phoebe Snow. Leon played on and produced three Shelter albums for blues guitarist Freddie King.

As a songwriter, Leon's songs have hit the charts across all genres and have been covered by a diverse range of artists. Ray Charles recorded 'A Song For You', B.B. King had a hit with 'Hummingbird', The Carpenters with 'Superstar' and Joe Cocker with 'Delta Lady'. The Carpenter's cover of "Superstar", written by Leon and Bonnie Bramlett, went to #2 on the pop music charts. George Benson won the "Record of the Year" Grammy in 1976 for his cover of Leon's song, "This Masquerade", and it became the first song in music history to hit #1 on the jazz, pop and R&b charts.

Leon organized and led the band behind Joe Cocker for the famous "Mad Dogs & Englishmen" tour of the U.S. in March-May, 1970. The huge 11 member band included 3 drummers and a 10 member choir which played 65 shows in 48 cities. The tour was filmed for the movie "Mad Dogs & Englishmen". The live double-LP album on A&M Records reached #2 on the U.S. album charts and sold over a million copies.

On August 1st, 1971, Leon joined George Harrison and friends for two performances of the Concert For Bangladesh at Madison Square Garden in New York to raise money for refugees. His "Jumpin' Jack Flash/Youngblood" medley was considered the highlight of the show by some. The album earned a Grammy Award for Album of the Year.

Leon's first solo album to earn a Gold record was "Leon Russell and The Shelter People" (1971). The "Carney" album, released in 1972, would be his best seller and included the single, "Tight Rope" which reached #11 on the pop music charts. By 1972, Leon was a major concert attraction. Billboard Magazine named Leon the top concert attraction for 1973. His concert at Long Beach, CA on August 28, 1972 was recorded and released on the triple-LP album 'Leon Live' which rose to #9 on the pop charts. Leon released the second Asylum Choir album, 'Asylum Choir II", in 1972 from songs recorded years earlier. The single "Slippin' Into Christmas" rose to # 4 on the Billboard Christmas chart in 1972.

At the height of his popularity as a rock star, Leon released a country music album, "Hank Wilson's Back" under the name Hank Wilson on August 31st,1973. His last Shelter Records studio album, "Will O' The Wisp" (1975), included the hit single "Lady Blue" (#14 on the charts) and went Gold. "The Best Of Leon" was released in 1976 and earned a 6th Gold Record. Leon founded Paradise Records a Warner Bros. label and released albums from 1976-84 such as "The Wedding Album", "Make Love To The Music", "Americana", "Life And Love", "Solid State" and "Hank Wilson Vol. II".

Leon co-hosted with Willie Nelson, the first of Willie's 4th of July picnics. Leon has continued to be a regular performer at Willie's picnics through the years. Leon joined Willie on tour and they teamed in 1979 for the country album, "One For The Road", which earned a Gold record and was honored by the Country Music Association with a nomination for "Album Of The Year". The album included the song "Heartbreak Hotel" that was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1980 for Best Country Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group.

In 1980-81, Leon toured with the New Grass Revival and released the 'Live Album' from their performances. In 1984 Leon released his second country album under the Hank Wilson name, "Hank Wilson Vol. II". Leon and Edgar Winter toured together in the late 1980's. In 1992, he teamed up with Bruce Hornsby (producer) for the album "Anything Can Happen" released on Virgin Records. Edgar Winter also played on the album. In 1998 "Hank Wilson Vol. 3: Legend In My Time" and 1999's "Face In The Crowd". In 2001, Russell played with Earl Scruggs and Friends on "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" which earned a Grammy for Best Country Instrumental Performance.

Leon joined a number of artists in honoring Willie Nelson on his 70th birthday celebration at the Beacon Theatre in New York city in April, 2003. Leon performed his classic 'A Song For You' with Willie and Ray Charles and also sang "Jumpin' Jack Flash". The show was filmed for the special "Willie Nelson: Live and Kickin'".

In April 2006, Leon was awarded a lifetime achievement award by the Bare Bones International Film Festival. In October 2006, he was inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame.

Leon and the Zac Brown Band performed Leon's song 'Dixie Lullabye' at the 2010 Grammys.

Leon and Sir Elton John released, The Union, a duet album on October 19, 2010. They toured together in October and November 2010. The single "If It Wasn't For Bad" was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals.

Leon was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March, 2011 and inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame in June, 2011.

Capitol/EMI released a 16-track compilation CD, The Best Of Leon Russell, on April 5, 2011.

Leon's latest records from his own record label, Leon Russell Records, include "Signature Songs", a collection of acoustic piano/vocal recordings of Leon Russell classics; "Guitar Blues"; "Moonlight & Love Songs", a collection of standards; "Face In The Crowd"; "Crazy Love"; "Hymns Of Christmas"; "Rhythm & Bluegrass: Hank Wilson vol. 4", a collection of songs recorded in the 1980's with the New Grass Revival; "A Mighty Flood", an album of inspirational songs; "Angel In Disguise"; and "Best Of Hank Wilson".

Leon continues to write songs, record, and thrill audiences on his non-stop tour across the U.S. Leon's son Teddy Jack and daughters Sugaree and Tina Rose have all been in his band and toured with him. His bass player, Jack Wessel, has been in his band for 32 years. Leon's musical style is still resonating with his lifelong fans and is inspiring younger listeners who are discovering his music from either the 'Mad Dogs & Englishmen' or 'Concert For Bangladesh' DVDs.

Current members of Leon's band include: Jackie Wessel, Bass; Brandon Holder, Drums; and Beau Charron, Keyboards,Lap Steel Guitar, and Mandolin.

Derek Hoke

Waiting All Night (Electric Western/Thirty Tigers)

Derek Hoke has crafted a collection of equally endearing and infectious songs for his long awaited sophomore release – Waiting All Night. Out August 21, 2012 on Electric Western / Thirty Tigers, Waiting All Night picks up right where Hoke left off with his first release Goodbye Rock N Roll. There is a significant difference here though. If Goodbye Rock N Roll was slow crafted, simmered in Hoke’s brain on low, and came to life on a lazy saw dust floor one night in town, then Waiting All Night was born under the lights on stage. It’s clear that Hoke and his band have been affected by the past years of playing week after week. Nashville has a way of doing that to a singer. A way of molding a voice around the lingering smoke and whiskey hanging in the air night after night. And first and foremost, Derek Hoke is a singer. The songs, even the ballads, reach out and yearn for a late night in a dark room. It’s the same feeling you get when you leave the house at 2am to catch last call…because if you don’t you might miss something. You might miss the steel guitar or meandering piano solos and telecaster riffs. Well, get out of the house, because you won’t want to miss a tune on Waiting All Night.

Born in Brunswick, Georgia – a self taught guitarist, composer, singer, and loner – Derek’s first love was the theatrics of KISS, but not until his grandfather planted the country music seed in his brain by playing it constantly while he was young. Not your dad’s country, your granddad’s country. The REAL country.

After one listen to Waiting All Night, it is apparent young Derek was listening. Like most in his line of work, Derek has moved around. While growing up in Florence, South Carolina, his parents divorced when he was 6. He cut his teeth playing guitar in bars around the state, moved to Greenville, North Carolina when he was 18, worked in record shops and movie theaters, immersing himself in art and music.

After a few years and visit to Nashville, Tennessee to see the likes of Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams, and Los Straightjackets, Hoke decided to move to Nashville. He slept on floors in crowded houses, played around town in almost every venue that would have him, went on tour working for Ricky Skaggs for three years and saw almost every state in the union. While these all seem to sideline Derek on his way to becoming the artist he is these days, they were clearly important on his body of work and sound. He is a man that embodies his experience, both with his constant relationship with music and his travels in life.

Continuing on their work with Goodbye Rock N Roll, Derek has once again paired up with long-time producer Dexter Green. On keeping the same crew but trying to craft something altogether different Hoke explains: “Songs like “Hope We Make It On Love” were definitely part of the afterglow of GBRNR. "Dex and I were pretty keen on not repeating ourselves so I took a different approach to most of the material. Mainly writing it on a ’68 Telecaster as opposed to an acoustic guitar. The White Album was a big influence on the change of styles.” Amongst the usual cast of characters in Derek’s band, this album sees some wonderful appearances by Jason Isbell, The Greenhornes, Chris Scruggs, Cory Chisel, and Caitlin Rose. “We employed most of the same cast as before, but added some folks whom we met after the last record. Dex was recording a single for The Greenhornes and asked if they’d stick around a do a few with me. We all had a blast and it turned out really great. Scruggs is an evil genius. He plays the steel guitar so effortlessly and with a sense of wonder and amusement.”

The record’s opening track, “Lonely Street”, carries a melancholy with it only obtained by experience. The opening lines set the stage perfectly:

“Well, nobody talks around here, they just listen. Hoping to hear about this thing called love. And every heart in this town, there’s something missing. Everyone praying to the stars up above.”

Hoke doesn’t let the listener dwell on it too long though, soon enough the piercing bluesy intro riff to the title track Waiting All Night cuts through and it’s very clear the band is locked into something really, really great. Even the fiddle, country pickin’ dance number “Sweetheart Letter” sits right at home next to the blues and the lonely crooner songs. Hoke seems to have a masterful way of taking all those influences, those early Americana sounds of southern delta and Appalachia, and crafting something completely all his own. If you can say anything about it, his music is all his own, it’s honest.

With “I Hope We Make It On Love” Hoke once again tells the entire story in one line: “I hope we make it on love, ’cause the money’s all gone”. Those classic turns of phrase are this songwriter’s specialty. “Gone Gone Gone” and “So Quiet” might find you humming their melodies for days, but “Love May Die” is clearly where Hoke starts to push outside his own comfort zone. “Love May Die is a glimpse of things to come.

Even Hoke’s version of Bob Dylan’s classic 1969 love ballad “Tonight I’ll be Staying Here With You” seems brand new. Anytime an artist covers a hero, the intent is to honor the song while letting your own voice bleed through, and Derek along with Michah Hulscher’s masterful piano have done just that. “Mean Mama” and “Cumberland Blues” could both have been written and been hits over 50 years ago in music city, but once again they are clearly and unmistakably Derek Hoke songs.

By the time you get to the end of Waiting All Night, you just want to start it over. It creates such a specific, unforgettable mood that I’m afraid it won’t last unless I keep it playing. Over and over again. Maybe it’s Hoke that is the evil genius after all. Either way, Waiting All Night is here and music is that much better off for it.

$45.00 - $50.00

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Leon Russell with Derek Hoke

Wednesday, January 8 · Doors 6:00 PM / Show 7:30 PM at Palace Theater