Watch & Listen

Bryan Lee

My regular gig before Katrina was at the Old Absinthe Bar, (on Bourbon Street in New Orleans) for 15 years during the 80' and 90's. Guitarist and leader of the Jump Street Five Band at the time, I appreciate my loyal fans. Today I'm still going strong, touring across the US, Canada and Europe playing the blues with the Blues Power Band.

I recently had the honor of performing with Kenny Wayne Shepherd on his newest CD/DVD release Ten Days Out. Along with Kenny, I had the distinct honor and pleasure of being on stage with Pine Top Perkins Hubert Sumlin, Buddy Flett , and Willie Big Eyes Smith. Performing with Kenny and his band on NBC's Tonight show with Jay Leno was a highlight on on Feb. 14 of 2007. I also had the honor of performing for BB King in 2005 for his birthday.

People used to ask me, "Why are you working so hard at all these stupid little bars, who cares?" "But hey there are people who care. I have to be sincere about it. In all walks of life you search for sincerity and there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of it.

I really feel the good Lord has blessed me with this gift and if I can reach 2 or 3 people in an audience I feel I have done a good job. I believe that I have a gift that makes people smile and I want to share that.

While I know exactly where he wants to melodically and musically, I cannot physically see at all. That's where my spiritual faith comes into play every day. As a blind person I put my faith in the Lord everyday. You have to believe in something to carry forward. A lot of people have let me down over the years because it is easy to take advantage of a blind person. In the end, it is faith in God that gets you along the way and practically, I put my faith on the line every time I cross the street. As you get older; blues is something that you get better at simply because of your age. You understand the music more and you learn to appreciate the old cats a whole lot more.

My origins are in Two Rivers, a blues collar factory town in northeast Wisconsin. I left after attending the Janesville School for the Blind, and played in Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and southern Wisconsin. Coming from the Midwest, I became friends with Luther Allison who also grew up in Wisconsin. He was one of my favorite guys that I would run into on a regular basis. I did a Monday night blues jam in Milwaukee in this place called the Jazz Riverboat and he used to come out there. He used to do a gig in Milwaukee at the Brother's Lounge that was 12 sets- 12 noon until midnight. I mean talk about paying your dues. They used to feed them and I think they made $50 bucks! Luther could do some pretty amazing things, he had the visual thing. But my visual thing isn't that bad, considering that I am blind.

Attending a Ray Charles concert in 1962 was my blues beginning. The thing that kept me in was a time in Milwaukee, 1981 I opened up for Muddy Waters at Summerfest, and at the end of his show I went to his dressing room and I said "Muddy, you and your band sound so good and it's just so nice to see and old man like you with a beautiful lady." And he said, "Bryan my friend, I don't see any old people here, what are you talking about?" And I said "Well, it is so nice to be in the presence of a living legend." He got up and came over and hugged me, and said, "Bryan, stay with this. One day you're going to be a living legend." So that was the clincher. After that is was" OK give me the brick wall, I'll go through it."

I think it is important to show people that if you have a handicap, or a disability, whatever people want to call blindness- and believe me in some respects it is a handicap, because you cannot drive a car, you cannot read your money. I feel it is important for me to let people see that I can get around by my self. Like in church, they don't have to bring communion to me; I can walk up and take communion. These are small things but I think it's important that they see that blind people can live productive lives and do a lot for themselves. There are those who can't do things for themselves, because they don't have the want or they just don't have the ability.

I would like to be remembered as someone who was honest and true to music. You want to hit people between the ribs that's going to stick to them because I'm making a statement. Believing in your self is really important too. I learned that a long time ago from Freddie King when he played. He wasn't going to let anything get in the way of his music. Same is true for me. I think it's more important than ever, whether you are white, black, or purple that if you have the feeling for the blues in your soul, we have to carry it on.

The good Lord gave me this talent, and I give it back to Him through His people. I had a priest tell me one time, "Bryan I envy you in that you get people's attention and you make them smile. When I do Mass on Sunday and I'm up there doing the homily I look out and see a lot of dead faces. They're not with me. Here, you're getting across to people. That's a good tool, making people happy."

I used to have people say "Oh, you're a musician working in bars? And a blues musician, they're all junkies and alcoholics." What I do I do honestly. You don't see no big diamonds on my fingers. But there's a firm belief in my heart, a love for what I do. It is very important for me every night, no matter how I feel, to give my very best to the audience. I want the music to be perfect every night (though I will never get it that way). But there are times, especially when you do a performance and everything's just right, you can't make a mistake.

Those kinds of nights still happen as I tour across the US, Canada and Europe with the Blues Power Band featuring John Perkins, drums. Check out "Katrina was Her Name", my new cd on Justin Time Records, and watch for us at this year's Blues Music Awards in Tunica, Mississippi.

On a personal note, please join me in my elation in finally discovering true love. My beloved partner, Bethany Jane, has lovingly accepted my proposal, taking my heart when she takes my name. Our souls are forever tied, and she is an endless source of inspiration!!

I invite you to send me a note anytime so I can inform you of when we will be performing in your town. Please don't be afraid to interact. I love getting your comments!

Tickets available at Door ... Doors Open @ 6:30pm ...

Tickets Available at the Door

The "Braille Blues Daddy" brings the New Orleans "Blues Power Party" into Callahan's! Guaranteed to be funky good time.

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