Cari Lee and the Saddle-ites
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Cari Lee and the Saddle-ites


Band Americana Country


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos


The best kept secret in music


"Country Standard Time"

For the past several years, the west coast has been a hotbed for a distinctive blend of hillbilly and western swing not heard since the heyday of Hank Thompson and the Maddox Brothers and Rose. And though the Dave and Deke Combo, the Lucky Stars and Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys have been the region's best-known exports to date, Bay Area singer Cari Lee Merritt does a fine job of reviving the west coast swingin' hillbilly sound of the late '40's and early '50's on her debut.
Blessed with a big, brassy voice, Merritt leads her rock-solid band through a dozen originals and covers. - Jon Johnson

"The Voice"

They are a pleasure to watch and hear. Each time Cari Lee took off with the “jump and thump” sounds of the South, combined with the vigor and brashness of the West Coast musical style, the fans in the row in front of me broke out in rhythmic applause. I guarantee you will do the same.
- Jennie Orvino

"Now Dig This Magazine (England)"

Embracing that fine mix of Hillbilly and Rockabilly, we are treated to several original songs together with interesting revivals. I have to say there are no weak moments here, everything is just right…the vocals from Cari Lee and the fine backing from the Saddle-ites make for a truly remarkable feel in that the sound is so original. They do a tremendous job throughout the whole album.
-Now Dig This Magazine (England)
- Trevor Cajiao

"Vintage Guitar Magazine"

Mixing country, swing, and hillbilly music, this second release from Cari and the Saddle-ites firms
their reputation as one of the leading working bands of the genre. Traditional but honest, the Saddle-ites mix the high-powered vocals of Cari Lee with stinging guitar from Steve Merritt and keyboards by Billy Wilson. The Road Less Traveled couples original tunes to covers like Charline Arthur’s “I’m Having a Party All by Myself” and Hoyt Johnson’s
“Standing in Your Window.” All of the players have the chops and deliver the music with enthusiasm. The real gem here is Cari Lee’s vocals which are full and
expressive, rich as a cup of dark coffee and smooth as
a newly paved asphalt road. If you like a little honky-tonk with your country swing music, check out the Saddle-ites at - Eric Shoaf

"Ctrl. Alt. Country, Belgium"

On their appropriately titled sophomore effort "The Road Less Traveled" Cari Lee Merritt and her four companions of the Saddle-Ites are opting to walk the path referred to in the album's title, the one that isn't used that often any longer nowadays. Authentic hillbilly bop originals like "Mama Told Me", "Hurry Up" and "Come Home To Me" can be found alongside steaming covers of Hoyt Johnson's "Standing In Your Window" and Charline Arthur's "I'm Having A Party All By Myself" (pure honky tonk) or thrilling renditions of songs made famous by Etta James and Wynonna Carr like "Nobody Loves You Like Me" and "I'm A Pilgrim Traveler". And we even get a nice little dessert at the end of the album with the stompin' rock & roll ditty "Eeny Meeny Miney Mo" and a live version of "Tennessee Avenue", recorded by Spanish TVE. And on top of that videoclips of both songs were added to the disc too. Cari Lee's last words addressing her Spanish audience therefore are ours to her too: "Gracias!"

- Benny Metten

"Blue Suede News"

“Hot Stuff! California’s Cari Lee rocks, rolls and swings in a red hot vintage Western way on this fine new CD. It’s one of those albums you can’t find anything wrong with. Cari Lee has the voice, the songs and her Saddle-ites provide the right kind of backing, may it be Hillbilly, Western Swing, Honky Tonk or Rockabilly, they nail whatever is called for. Cari Lee’s beautiful voice stands out in the mix (thank you Mr. Producer Billy Horton) and her Saddle-ites take us on an enjoyable and smooth ride back to the 40’s & 50’s.
- Blue Suede News (America)
- Gabby Maag-Bristol

"Fiddles & Steel"

Several songs jump out and take a hold. “Standing in your window” compares really well with either the Hoyt Johnson or Eddie Bond versions; perhaps better. “Move On” is a stand out, with wonderful vocal and instrumental support, this is the top number for me. And yet there are some great runners up. The revival of “Eeny Meeny Miney Mo” and the new song, “Do You Or Don’t You” are hot on the heels. This outfit is a class act and one that we need to preserve the music for the future.
-Howard Cockburn (Europe)
- Howard Cockburn


Full Length CD Releases:
The Road Less Traveled - 08/03 - El Toro Records
Red Barn Baby - 2001 - El Toro Records
**Video and Music files can be viewed at

Ritual Rockabillies - 2001 - El Toro Records
Dynamite EP - 2001 - Part Records

Single Releasaes:
Church Bell Boogie


Feeling a bit camera shy


“Five Star Quality!” “Full of Vim and Vigor!” “Timeless Appeal!” These are just a few of the declarations that critics have used to describe the exuberance of Cari Lee and the Saddle-ites. Cari Lee and the Saddle-ites have been showcased at numerous festivals, national television shows, and live radio broadcasts throughout America and Europe.

Referred to by critics as “America’s Hillbilly Sweetheart”, Cari Lee has shared stages with Grammy Award winning artists such as Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris and Dave Alvin. Cari Lee and the Saddle-ites have performed with country music legends such as Don Maddox (of the Maddox Brothers & Rose) and former Bob Wills Texas Playboy, Skeeter Elkin. In fact, Cari Lee’s vocal talents recently earned her the starring role portraying Rose Maddox in a stage production with Peter Rowan, (Bill Monroe’s former bluegrass guitarist), serving as musical director. From Grammy award winning Arhoolie Record’s CEO Chris Strachwitz, to former senior editor of Rolling Stone Magazine, Ben Fong-Torres, Cari Lee and the Saddle-ites’ one of a kind sound and dynamic stage show has captured the hearts of a diverse crowd of music lovers of all ages and musical tastes.

Cari Lee and The Saddle-ites’ second CD release, The Road Less Traveled, on Spain’s El Toro record label, is receiving astounding reviews from numerous European and American music magazines. It’s currently being added to radio play lists all over the world. Cari Lee and the Saddle-ites have recently appeared on main showcase festival stages in Spain, Holland and America as well as night clubs in France, Belgium, and Switzerland. Audience responses often cause autograph lines over an hour long. This “Sweetheart of the Golden West” has proven that quality, down home music will never fade away.