Bryan Lee might have come into this world a cheesehead up in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, but as soon as he heard those great, long-distance blues radio shows as a little boy in the 1950s, the chitlin circuit called. Lee played gigs in cold Wisconsin for years, and moved to New Orleans in 1982. He spent 15 years playing blues at the Old Absinthe House, where his energetic Chicago-style blues stopped many a passerby surprised to find such good blues on Bourbon Street.
Lee’s recent release on Justin Time Records is My Lady Don’t Love My Lady, Lee’s third record produced by Duke Robillard. It’s a mix of powerful boogies and smoking hot shuffles that keep Lee’s solos and song writing well represented. “Heartbreaker” and “Just to Prove My Love to You” are two barrelhouse New Orleans R&Bs that remind you that Lee has been a resident for 30 years. Another nod to New Orleans (in the manner of Walter “Wolfman Washington” Washington) is Lee’s composition “My Lady Don’t Love My Lady.” The title comes not from a lover on the side, but from Lee frightening his wife by fooling around with another mistress—his guitar—after he had just come home from a long stay in the hospital. “My Lady” has a swooping and sharp solo that shows just what damage Lee is capable of on a Fender guitar.
As enjoyable as all the rest of the 12 cuts on the record are, the standard “Early in the Morning” is among the best. It has blues great Buddy Guy playing snarling, little impatient licks and fills in the wings, then tearing into an intense, extended solo that is as deep and expressive as it gets.