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Bryan Lee

Like so many other musicians in New Orleans, guitarist, singer and songwriter Bryan Lee came to the Crescent City from somewhere else. But he's been carefully honing and refining his craft in Crescent City bars for so many years now, he's considered a New Orleans institution. He's played at 25 of the prestigious New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festivals, and marked his 25th year at the spring time festival in 2009. Blind since the age of eight, like many blind people, Lee has a heightened sense of hearing. He's a master at ensemble playing and knows how to read an audience.

Lee was born Bryan Lee Kumbalek in Two Rivers, Wisconsin. In his youth, he listened to clear channel station WLAC in Nashville, and had an experience similar to that of Angela Strehli, who was growing up roughly the same time, but in Lubbock, in west Texas. He listened each evening and became enamored with the sounds of Muddy Waters, Elmore James, B.B. King, Howlin' Wolf and others. Like Strehli, Jimmie Vaughan, Doyle Bramhall Sr. and so many other "white kids from the suburbs," Lee didn't see any color, he just loved the music, the poetry of the lyrics and the art form.

By the time he was 15, he was playing guitar in a variety of rock and blues-rock bands and in his late teens he befriended guitar slinger Luther Allison, who played many of the same Wisconsin clubs Lee was playing in. By 1981, Lee and his band had the chance to open for Muddy Waters at Summerfest in Milwaukee. Lee and Waters talked in the dressing room, and Lee told Waters how honored he was to be opening for a legend like Waters. Waters gave Lee some inspiration: "Bryan, my friend, don't stop what you're doing, because one day you're going to be a living legend."

Lee moved to New Orleans in 1982 and began a long residency at the Old Absinthe House in the French Quarter. A 13-year-old Kenny Wayne Shepherd asked to sit in one night and the experience proved to be a revelatory one for Shepherd, later one of the bright stars of the blues-rock scene. Shepherd said he knew right then and there, that playing guitar and playing blues and blues-rock was what he wanted to do with the rest of his life. Appropriately, Shepherd included Lee in his documentary, 10 Days Out: Blues from the Backroads.

Although some health problems have curtailed his national and international touring during the 2000s and his music studio in New Orleans was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina floodwaters in 2005, Lee pressed on. (He later restricted his time on the road to three week tours.)

Lee's discography is extensive and his original songs sparkle with authenticity. His albums include The Blues Is… in 1991 for Canada-based Justin Time Records; Braille Blues Daddy in 1995; Live at the Old Absinthe House Bar in 1997; Crawfish Lady in 2000; Katrina Was Her Name in 2007, and My Lady Don't Love My Lady in 2009, all for Justin Time Records. ~ Richard Skelly, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

Bad A--
Gary Moore
The man is a Blues Guitar Genius!
nice
yea this is what I like, great men don't come along every day.
one of the best
This mother can play the blues
The way blues should be played so play on you bad m.f
rkulak321
Bryan, love ya my brother..... . . . . F u z z Man
from wisconsin, come back for a concert, say wausau blues fest
Just had the pleasure of attending my first live performance last night. Incredible man with a great band. Great emotion, he made the guitar cry! Gave his all for 2 hours and 45 minutes . A must see for any real blues fan! Keep it up Bryan!
THE MAN IS ONE TALENTED BLUES MAN,THEY DON'T COME ANY BETTER. THANKS FOR THE GREAT MUSIC MR. BRYAN LEE.
Out and out! grooving in the 808!!
tjdmval
Love me some Bryan Lee, catch him in the French Quarter every chance I get. What a great musician he is. Peace Brother.
We never miss a chance to see our Braille Blues Daddy!
Pool hall music all the way and I'm a pool player..love it!
jimsmail28
It is a crying shame that the Old Absinthe House no longer stands! Many a night listening to Bryan just tear the joint up. It was one of the real classic places in the quarter and certainly one of the best blues joints on Bourbon Street. Bryan gave his heart and soul with every performance. Do not miss the chance to see him live!! Jim McMichael
Great music, fantastic style!
Saw the man on many occasions in the Quarter... perfect all the time...Blues Rules.......
I had never heard of this guy before....he rocks!!! Hope I get to see his show someday.
Just saw him live in Naples last week. WOW, just wow.
I first heard Bryan Lee some 16 years ago. I was heading north to Rochester NY with my son going to college and we were just leaving our local rock 'n roll station's signal in SW Florida when they played Braille Blues Daddy and I was instantly addicted. When I returned home a few days later I purchased everything Bryan Lee I could get my hands on. I have met the man up close and personal at some local clubs here in SW Florida and he rocks my world every time I see him. God bless you Byran!
I remember Bryan Lee at the Intersection Bar in Grand Rapids, MI. It was in the late '70's, early '80's. MAN! How he rocked that club!
mhubicz
Luv me some BRYAN LEE, he can squeeze that baby of his for me any time he wants to!!!!!!!!!! ! PLAY DA BLUUUUUUUZE BRYAN!!!!!!!
i met bryan several times in NO and in my home town springfield illinois i played in a few clubs
abc200064
Bryan Lee "blue" them away at the Westport Blues Fest in Westport, Ct. back in Sept. the last show of his tour this year. my first time seeing him and you would never have known it the last show of the tour. Blazin' hope he returns next year
teresabea
Just saw Bryan in New Orleans last wk at The Saloon & he was absolutely great and so was the band.
I work the stage at the North Atlantic Blues zFestival in Rockland Maine every July, and Bryan was there this year. I thought he was very gracious and friendly to everyone and his band and he seemed to have a fine relationship . And his show was one off the best!!!!!!!! ! ! ! ! ! Come to Maine next July and see 8,000 others do!!!!!!
to Rose mitchell -
#1 I am listening to players for how they play not how you claim they "treat their band" so stick to facts not here say
#2 sounds like your sour grapes are affecting your opinions anyway
#3 not really sure that your comments are relevant to this forum
#4 Bryan Lee rocks!
Although Bryan Lee is a mainstay of the New Orleans French Quarter, living there has done nothing to erase that distinctive Chicago Blues sound. Another fine example of Electric Blues
Sorry, but he is a miserable s.o.b. in real life. Treats his band members like dog poop and plays his blindness like a tattered poor me sympathy card. His guitar player (former/curr e n t ? ) B r e n t is 1000% times a better musician than he will ever be. Yes, sour grapes from personal experience, but still true....
First saw Bryan Lee on Bourbon street in 1984- we were there for a conference- blew me away then, and - well, still does!
andy1978lind
I was first introduced to Bryan via Kenny Wayne Shepherd's 10 Days out album. Have seen him live in NOLA and as always blues is better live. If you like old blues check out the above album/DVD.
i want his beard
colorlinepro d u c t i o n s
to much, fred said it''''''''
what a great find i'm in love all over
Blind man can pack a tune,right on.
jeff.loprinz i
IF you like bryan you should find out about bobby mack. he is as good if not better.
the man can jam-great talent
eoswald
don't mistake my blindness for weakness.... . . . . . unbelievable , you have to see it live.
I'm diggin the Blind Blues Daddy, just found out about him, cause fm radio sucks, and you don't get to hear really cool blues, pandora , siruis, xm the only way to hear what needs to be heard
snglsculr
awsume!!!!!! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
I love his singing. He is so smooth! Brotherman can sang!
I love his band too!!
What a great time at River Walk in Manitowoc yesterday... t o o bad for the rain.
Luckily most of the people stayed!! A great time for one and all!!
Thanks for sharing your Talent!
Bryan is from my town,Two Rivers,Wisco n s i n , U S A and is a staple in the small bars around the county. Hes a Wonderful man and an Excellent Blues man!!!
this guy is southern fried broseph
sounds good to me man

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