Lee Fields has been doing his thing for over 40 years, but I only got really familiar with his music this year. A work associate was selling some LPs in his collection, and while I was looking through his rack, he pulled out Lee Fields LP “Problems”. He assured me that it was an excellent listen, and I trusted him. I’m so glad I did.
When I played “Problems” on my record player, I was immediately immersed in some deep, soulful funk that I was embarrassed to realize I was unfamiliar with. “Problems” was released in 2002, and I realized that I was over 10 years late to the party … but as they say, “better late than never”.
I found out later that he was scheduled to perform at the Troubadour in support of his most recent album “Faithful Man”, but was saddened to discover that the show had sold out. I didn’t see any tickets for sale on second hand ticket brokers websites, so I can only assume that those who were lucky enough to snag tickets, were keeping them for themselves. My extreme loss. Thankfully, for my sake, he was scheduled to perform at the Beach Ball Festival.
Critics compare Lee Fields to artists like Wilson Pickett and James Brown, but those critics should really just focus on what Lee Fields brings to the current music scene. Perhaps, if Lee’s latest albums were released back in the hey day of soul music (i.e. the 60’s), he may have been talked about in the same breath with the soul stars of that time. But, they weren’t. Rather, the albums are part of the current music scene, and they are diamonds in the rough. Current artists, and popular music, don’t make albums like Lee Fields. There are only a handful of artists today (Sharon Jones and Charles Bradley, to name a few) that provide modern day music fans with the kind of throwback soul that existed back in soul’s hey day. That kind of music is unique in today’s musical landscape, and should be judged on their own merits. Just my thoughts …
Lee Fields brought his brand of retro-soul to the stage, and knocked the audience out. Dressed in his bright red, yellow and blue, plaid blazer, he brought an infectious energy to the stage that the crowd couldn’t help but feel. Interacting with the crowd, strutting and dancing back and forth across the stage, swooning and belting the lyrics to his music, his performance was the embodiment of soul music, and he had me smiling dimple to dimple throughout the whole set.
After his performance, I head back to the back stage area with the hopes of meeting Mr. Fields. Some people may think that I take my music too seriously, but I felt compelled to bring along my copy of the “Problems” LP in case I was lucky enough to meet him to get it signed. The soul stars must have been lined up, because as soon as I made my way back, Mr. Fields was snapping some pictures with a photographer for the event. I got him to sign my LP and snap a picture, told him how much I enjoyed the show and wished him the best for the rest of the tour.
Mr Fields, terrific set. The pleasure was all mine.