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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 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
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

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One of the best live club shows I've seen in a long time!! This guy reads his audience on the fly and just draws them in until they are at his mercy and he doesn't' disappear he stays in front and does it well! Go see him when you can! You won't be sorry!
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spectacular!
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&I thought j. Winter was dead!
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oh yes......... . . . . . . . . . . . .
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wooh
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Brain's style is what I like. Wish I someone would have told me about him earlier, he is now one of my go to Blues player's.
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He's so good he's bad___ as in bad to the bone.
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wooh
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hjones38306
I am from the blues country loving it
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hjones38306
Some more of the blues what more can you ask for ??????$$$$$$ $
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my manz be jammin to them blues
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Fantastic live performer! Bryan Lee is a legend!
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NOW YOU R A LEGEND
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Boring. Just playing the usual stuff that I have heard a thousand times.
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oh, yeh owww haha
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Spent 5 days in New Orleans in Dec. 99 and ended up seeing him everynight. The boy can play the blues. FANTASTIC
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Bryan Lee bad a''
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Mmmmm darn good....
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llesniak31
I love bryan lee he is fantastic! !! U cant stop shaking your feet when listening to bryan lee
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Hay tight sound
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Saw him many times ln WI back in the 70's. He had it back then, like Waters said.
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I had the pleasure of taking in this band after katrina at the slippery noodle in Indianapolis where the band ran to during the storm. I have been marveled and awe struck with the band ever since....roc k on boys!
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Sounds like one of his influences is BB king and Lucille. Love him! First time I've heard of him..he rocks!
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damn they even have saxophone
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oh, yeah
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Bryan Lee a personal favorite
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smokin'
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yeeehah
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ouch
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Bad A--
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Gary Moore
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The man is a Blues Guitar Genius!
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nice
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yea this is what I like, great men don't come along every day.
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one of the best
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This mother can play the blues
The way blues should be played so play on you bad m.f
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rkulak321
Bryan, love ya my brother..... . . . . F u z z Man
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from wisconsin, come back for a concert, say wausau blues fest
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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!
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THE MAN IS ONE TALENTED BLUES MAN,THEY DON'T COME ANY BETTER. THANKS FOR THE GREAT MUSIC MR. BRYAN LEE.
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Out and out! grooving in the 808!!
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tjdmval
Love me some Bryan Lee, catch him in the French Quarter every chance I get. What a great musician he is. Peace Brother.
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We never miss a chance to see our Braille Blues Daddy!
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Pool hall music all the way and I'm a pool player..love it!
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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
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Great music, fantastic style!
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Saw the man on many occasions in the Quarter... perfect all the time...Blues Rules.......
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I had never heard of this guy before....he rocks!!! Hope I get to see his show someday.
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Just saw him live in Naples last week. WOW, just wow.
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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!
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