Sanders triple threat show hits the stage

By Contributor
January 14th, 2010

John Lee Sanders and Trio transport you from the everyday to a smoky New Orleans Cajun bar, then on to a blues club in Austin, and still further on to an uptown Jazz Club in Manhattan – all from your seat at the Grand Forks Secondary School Auditorium. This is the third in the Boundary District Arts Council’s four-concert Performance 2009-2010 series that continues on Thursday, January 21, at 7:30 p.m.

John Lee Sanders spent his youth immersed in the wealth of jazz, blues and gospel music that has become the background of North American pop music for over fifty years. The deeply intertwined roots in music of this gifted piano, sax and vocal performer/composer have found inspiration in some very interesting places. John Lee’s grandmother played piano in the silent movie theaters of Memphis and lived around the corner from Stax Records, the birthplace of American soul music, and his mother’s first cousin played trombone with W.C. Handy.

When a young Elvis Presley bought his first home right next door to John Lee’s aunt and uncle, John Lee managed a sneak peek at Presley’s guitar collection after convincing Elvis’ dad to let him use the bathroom.

In 1975, when John Lee’s equipment truck broke down on the way to a gig in Austin, Texas, an up and coming Stevie Ray Vaughan put John and the band up at his home, and re-energized his life-long love of the blues. John has now incorporated the “Texas Stratocaster” sound into this triple threat show, and is bringing in a new generation of fans.

At 12-years-old, John Lee was billed as “Birmingham’s answer to Little Stevie Wonder”. Eventually, he received a music scholarship and studied saxophone, guitar and piano which led to a degree in composition from the prestigious North Texas State University. While abroad studying in Rome, he was introduced to Professor Longhair and Dr. John at the Montreux Jazz Festival, which awakened his passion for New Orleans piano.

John Lee’s many credits include: 2009 winner for Blues Recording of the Year at the BC Interior Music Awards; 2008 Western Canada Music Award Nomination for outstanding blues recording for Doc Goes Hollywood, written by Tower of Power founding member, Doc Kupka, and arranged by William Ross; music director of the Academy Awards and music director for Barbara Streisand. He’s also written film scores, a number nine rating on blues charts for Foreclose on the House of Love in 2004, a WC Handy Nomination for Blues Song of the Year and a 2007 Emmy nomination for Song of the Year for the jazz ballad, Just One Kiss.

John Lee also became a top West Coast session player and producer, on keyboards, saxophone and horn arrangements, and has performed at festivals all over Europe and North America. His songs have been covered by Eddie Kendricks of the Temptations, Marcia Ball and Sally Kellerman (aka Hot Lips from M.A.S.H.) and have been featured in numerous TV shows and commercials.

Not surprisingly, John Lee has opened for and performed with many music legends including Willie Nelson, John Lee Hooker, Jimmy Witherspoon, Freddie King, Dr. John, The Meters, Chuck Berry, Jimmy Page, Tower of Power, Sam Moore, Mary Wells and his longtime inspiration, Stevie Wonder.

John has headlined major blues and jazz festivals throughout Europe and Canada, in Austria, Germany and Italy, and has recorded numerous CDs.

Tickets are available in advance at Thistle Pot Gifts or the Grand Forks Art Gallery: adult $18; senior $16; youth $5; family $45. Tickets are also sold at the door: adult $20; senior $18; youth $7; family $50.

For more information about the Performance 2009-2010 concert series, please call Erna Gobbett at 442-8569.



Categories: Arts and Culture