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Concert Review: A Blind Date with Bryan Lee

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Date: May 31, 2005
Artist: Bryan Lee
Venue: Patrick’s II

I had a dream a few months back. I was in a club with a band on stage and behind them were large mirrored speakers. As the guitarist began to wail away on his guitar, I could see the mirrors shaking and beginning to crack. Little spidery cracks.

I had no idea what it meant, if anything, for the longest time.

I do now.

It’s all Bryan Lee’s fault.

I’m not trying to be enigmatic, I’m merely working on filling in the blanks. Too moved to form words is normally a good thing, right? Tonight, I’m still hearing the blistering guitar work of Bryan Lee and Brent Johnson in my head. I think my heart is pounding to the beat of Heat Seeking Missile.

Originally from Wisconsin, Lee has called New Orleans home since 1982. He has such a devoted following that he draws people from all over the United States to hear him play in NOLA. This time, folks came to San Diego for him. I met one couple who’ve been following him for years and his first trip west was a special treat.

As most fans of the Joe Bonamassa band know, it takes a special sort of musician to have that kind of pull.

Bryan Lee has that.

The man plays everything – from straight out blues to blues rock, funky blues to swamp blues, and he plays it with a ferocity that lingers in your soul for a long, long time after the music ends.

Accompanied by Brent Johnson on rhythm (and lead) guitar, Vance Abeyta on bass, and John Perkins on drums, Bryan had people on the dance floor or rockin’ in their seats. While a few folks may have been expecting the band to launch into some indie rock (Brent was sporting a faux-hawk), the band gave us nothing but rock solid blues. Rocket 88, Six String Therapy, Dimples, Second Line Home, and many, many more songs set the room on fire.

And then there was that mirror. Yes, Patrick’s II has a mirror behind the stage. I glanced at it a few times to make sure it wasn’t about to shatter. Between the sparks flying from Bryan and Brent’s fingers to the slammin’ sounds emanating from their amps, I was certain it would happen. Nobody can rock such a small space like that and not have something break.

For over thirty years, Lee’s been entertaining crowds with his gravelly voice and beefy guitar licks. Throw in a little humor and some serious mojo, you get one hell of a show.

From the stage, Bryan said, “I’m your blind date for the night. I bet I’m the best blind date you’ll ever have.” He was absolutely right. Our Braille Blues Daddy was smoking hot on his bright red axe. Uh-huh.

He had me considering shifting loyalties. Well, almost. You know, the best thing about bands, unlike the whole boyfriend/girlfriend or spouse thing, you can see and love them all and nobody ends up jealous.

Bryan Lee. Remember that name. And, should you be fortunate enough to see him perform, your ears – heck, your whole body – won’t let you forget.

Patrick’s II, located in San Diego’s historic Gaslamp Quarter, is home to the friendliest wait staff you’ll ever meet. The bar offers live music, drinks, and dancing seven nights a week, with the best blues, soul, rock ‘n’ roll bands, and no cover charge Sunday through Thursday. The only downside is that they’re relatively small. For a band with such a huge sound, a larger venue is definitely in order.

Originally posted at Bonamassa Blog, along with my absolute worst photographic effort to date.

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