John Lee Sanders
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John Lee Sanders

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"Sanders Makes New Year's Eve Smoke"

Sizzle and smoke with Louisiana bluesman extraordinaire John Lee Sanders when he returns to the Vernon Jazz Club for a special New Year’s Eve performance.

Fresh from his sold-out September performance, Sanders offers lucky Vernon fans the opportunity to groove once more to his rocking boogie piano, wailing Texas tenor sax, and fiery vocals.

“It’s an incredible opportunity to bring John Lee back,� said Vernon Jazz Society president Steve Simon. “It’s a great thing to have him in the Okanagan. We don’t realize yet how lucky we are. If you go down to Louisiana and talk about John Lee Sanders, he’s just so big.�

In Sanders’ case, the adage “back by popular demand� is the truth. Vernon fans clamoured for more of Sanders music, steeped in the jazz, blues, funk, and gospel music of the Louisiana Mississippi Delta.

Sanders’ performances include a wealth of original tunes and old favourites.

“My live shows always contain some New Orleans funk classics,� said Sanders. “I always do a song called Foreclose on the House of Love, an original that was nominated for blues song of the year at the WC Handy Awards in 2004.�

Naturally, Sanders also includes lots of blues and jazz standards, “because we all want to hear something familiar, such as Muddy Waters, Ray Charles, and Louis Jordan.�

Sanders’ musical resumé is like a history lesson in American pop, jazz, and R&B, recording and performing with such legends as John Lee Hooker, Willie Nelson, Chuck Berry, Jimmy Page, Sam Moore, Mary Wells, and Stevie Wonder. In just one evening Sanders’ piano can transport you from a smoky New Orleans Cajun bar to a Chicago blues club to an uptown Manhattan jazz club.

At 12 years old, Sanders was billed as “Birmingham’s answer to Little Stevie Wonder.� He graduated from the prestigious North Texas State University music program, developing a passion for New Orleans piano.

“In 1973, I heard Professor Longhair and Dr. John for the first time at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, and began this love for and connection with New Orleans piano, which greatly influenced the way I play to today.�

Sanders’ most recent recordings include Doc Goes Hollywood, just nominated for a Western Canada Music Award for outstanding blues recording, and the newly released Bucket Full of Blues. His sexy jazz ballad Just One Kiss from the soap opera The Bold and The Beautiful received a best song Emmy nomination in 2007.

“My music is joyful and lyrically has lots of humour with the emotional depths and highs of love. The New Orleans influence gives it the fun and street vibe of a Mardi Gras Parade and the soul of the Delta.�

Guests at this New Year’s Eve bash will enjoy some additional treats.

John Lee Sanders performs Dec. 31 at 9 p.m. at the Vernon Jazz Club. Tickets are $40, available at Bean Scene and Bean to Cup.
- Vernon Morning Star, Dec 08


"Rolling on the River"

By Mikelle Sasakamoose - Kamloops This Week

Published: November 04, 2008 5:00 PM

Raised in the Mississippi Delta, John Lee Sanders knows what it means to roll back.

The bluesman and studio musician who now lives in the Okangan has played it all, including jingles for the conglomerate Wal-Mart.

“The money was good,� he said simply about his commercial work, but added he’s since gotten back to his roots.

A young piano player, Sanders said he spent his childhood between Memphis and New Orleans surrounded by blues and jazz.

As a kid, he remembers his older brother bringing home Ray Charles albums and teaching him rhythm and blues licks. Still he initially gravitated towards rock ‘n roll.

His first studio album, World Blue in 1995, had a heavier rock edge to it, but as he evolved as an artist, Sanders said his music moved back to bluesy style played in the country through which one of the greatest rivers in the world rolls.

“I just thought pop music was getting so slick and over-produced and I went the other way,� he said, noting he plays live so often, it’s more realistic ad powerful to play music that’s stripped down.

Also a songwriter who has studied classical composition, Sanders plays mostly original music.

“Nobody wants to hear some white guy copy Muddy Waters. He had his own story and I have to convey my life story in my music,� Sanders said.

“I just took the blues and brought it into the 21st century.�

His most recent record, Doc Goes Hollywood, available only in Europe and on iTunes, is based in the blues but reflects the more fun side of music from the Deep South.

“It’s got a real New Orleans’ groove to it — it’s bluesy and it’s got a gospel feel to it — but it’s more syncopated,� he said, noting the album is heavily influenced by African grooves and kalypso rhythms.

“It’s very spontaneous down there and it’s kind of a party atmosphere,� Sanders said of his home base, adding “it’s a really poor place, but people know how to live life and have fun and the music reflects that.�

Now living with his wife in Kelowna, Sanders doesn’t feel all that removed from the genre in which he grew up.

“Everybody gets the blues at some point,� he said, noting it doesn’t matter where one lives.

“It’s [the blues] universal.�

Sanders performs at The Blue Grotto, 319 Victoria Street, on Friday and Saturday nights.
- Kamloops this Week


"From the Delta to Kelowna, by Portia Priegert"

The Okanagan is a long way from the smoky blues bars of the Deep South, but John Lee Sanders is bridging that gap by bringing the rich rhythms of his roots in the Mississippi Delta to his new home in Kelowna.
Chatting with Sanders, a vocalist, keyboardist and sax player, is like taking a ride through musical history. He has played with the likes of Chuck Berry and Stevie Wonder and brushed shoulders with other stars during his long career.
But love in the form of his wife, Judy brought him north to Canada two years ago.
“In 1998, while on tour with Long John Baldry, I met a girl from Kelowna, and things clicked,� says Sanders. “We spent the next eight years in a cross-border relationship that ended up in Vancouver and, now, Kelowna.�
“I‘ve been in Canada since 2006, for 18 months in Vancouver, and just bought a house in September in Kelowna,� he says. “I received my permanent residence card a few weeks ago and was not able to perform until it was processed.�
Sanders has gigs April 18 and April 19 at the Blue Gator and May 3 at the Minstrel Cafй. He will also headline July 12 at Roots, Rhythm and Blues, a free weekend concert organized by Parks Alive
Sanders, 56, has a complex biography, but highlights include his song, Foreclosure on the House of Love, reaching Number Nine on the blues charts in 2004. In 2007, he received an Emmy nomination for the jazz ballad, Just One Kiss, from the long-running soap opera, The Bold and the Beautiful.
Blues biographer David Ritz has described Sanders‘ sound as full-bodied and blood-washed.
“He reminds us that blues are concerned with neither nostalgia nor self-pity,� Ritz writes. “John Lee Sanders‘ blues are about … a renewal of strength, a resurrection of the human spirit, a projection of hard-earned hope and a declaration of extravagant love.�
Sanders grew up in a musical family and was immersed in jazz, blues and gospel at a pivotal time in American history, particularly in the South. As a boy, out shopping with his mother, he remembers shaking hands with civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Looking back, it was such a thrill to meet him,� says Sanders. “He wasn‘t getting such good press at the time, where I was from, but now he‘s such a huge American hero and we recognize what he did.�
He also met Elvis Presley when the King bought his first house a few doors down from his aunt and uncle in Memphis. The neighbourhood kids would hang around waiting for Presley to drive up in his Cadillac with a bevy of female fans. Once, Presley‘s dad let Sanders use the washroom in the house and showed him Presley‘s guitars.
“I still remember his bedroom. It was almost like a kid‘s bedroom. There were twin beds, with cowboy wallpaper on the walls.�
By the time Sanders was 12, he was opening for R&B bands that passed through town.
Sanders, who counts Cajun, Zydeco, New Orleans funk and gospel among his musical influences, moved to California in 1977. He became a session player and producer, working on recordings by John Lee Hooker, Jimmy Witherspoon, Freddie King, Dr. John, The Meters, Jimmy Page and others.
In the 1990s, he toured with Starship, Roy Rogers & the Delta Rhythm Kings, Paul Williams, Sam Moore and Baldry.
Lately, while waiting for his immigration papers, Sanders has been writing film scores and music for television from his home studio. Last year, he released his first live DVD "Live at Rock Beach" – with a soundtrack that includes classic blues, New Orleans funk and gospel music.
Check out Sanders‘ sound at http://johnleesanders.com. - Event Magazine, Kelowna BC Canada


"Liner notes, Bucket Full of Blues CD"

Thirty years ago, still in the full bloom innocence, I walked into a little club in Dallas, Texas, and had the top of my head blown off by a bluesman with firepower to burn.

The kid's name was John Lee Sanders, and now the kid's a man, and the man, steeped in the towering tradition of deep-fried funk, is offering up his Bucket Full of Blues.

The bucket is overflowing with creative gifts

The bluesman has reached full maturity, and that promise of youth,
heard so long ago, has been realized.

I'm grateful for this chance to celebrate John's most recent
achievement and offer my testimony.

Here's what I feel about John Lee Sanders:

He's a truth-teller, an artist who can't help but give it to you straight.

Here's what I love about John Lee Sanders:

His voice. Raw. Real. Sweet. Tart. An instrument of tremendous
emotional and spiritual range.

His writing. His hooks. His stories. His sense, as he puts it, of
"The World As I Know It."

His deep Louisiana roots. His powerful connection to the fertile soil.

His grit, his grooves.

His honesty.

His haunting cry, his courageous assault on anything false.

"I've never claimed to be something I'm not," he writes in "Handful.
"I've got my flaws, but my heart is good."

His music, his singing, his aesthetic vision are more than good;
they're flat-out great.

At this troubling moment in the history of the Music Nation, John Lee Sanders stands tall. He's major. In his own words, he's hitched a ride from Memphis, dealing with the ghosts of Highway 61, arriving in New Orleans in order to comfort us with the good news: that true music is truer than ever. His songs, full-bodied and blood-washed, are rooted in reality. He reminds us that blues are concerned with neither nostalgia nor self-pity. John Lee Sanders' blues are about nothing less a renewal of strength, a resurrection of the human spirit, a projection of hard-earned hope and a declaration of extravagant love.
David Ritz

David Ritz has written biographies of, among others, Ray Charles, B.B. King, Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin and Etta James. He co-composed "Sexual Healing."
http://ritzwrites.com


- David Ritz, leading blues Biographer


"World blue CD review"

It's amazing to me that an artist with John Lee Sanders' Talent should have to approach an European label to get his product out, though I guess that's an old story around here. Sanders is an amazing songwriter and producer. Although John is from Louisiana, he credits Long John Baldry with helping him rediscover the musical heritage of the region. The results are spectacular.

The pianist/saxman combines elements of Dr. John with those of several of the best piano based artists of the last 20 years- like Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel, and Leon Russel for example and holds his own with all of 'em. I'm not much into a couple of those guys, but when their style comes out of John Lee Sanders he's transformed it into something I like alot.

Not only that, but he takes a led Zeppelin song ("Black Dog") and shows those guys how that song should go, realizes its potential fully. He also covers Little Milton on "Who's Cheatin' Who?' This album is a tremendous discovery, and I just lucked onto it by running into Sanders at a party. Not only did he give me a copy, but he bought a subscription!

By Marc Bristol - Blue Suede News


"Live at Rock Beach CD Review"

I first encountered John Lee Sanders back in 1995 when I saw him on tour in the UK with the slide guitar maestro Roy Rogers and his Delta Rhythm Kings, where he was playing some powerful tenor sax, and I was very impressed with the extra dimension that he gave to the Rogers band. This twenty-one track double disc was recorded in White Rock, British Columbia, Canada where Louisiana-born Sanders is now based. The band and the audience were packed into a recording studio, and it sounds as though great fun was being had by all present. The original idea was to film a DVD and Sanders was so pleased with the sound that he decided to release the session as a compact disc and I for one am glad that he did.

Sanders has surrounded himself with some very impressive Canada based musicians and vocalist, who between them have performed with the likes of Bonnie Raitt, Bo Diddley, John Hammond, Buddy Guy, Lowell Fulson, Freddie King, the Rolling Stones, John Lee Hooker, and Tina Turner. The majority of the lead vocals are from Sanders, as well as playing piano and tenor sax, but on this highly recommended set he gives his outstanding fellow performers plenty of space to express their own personalities - the mark of a good band leader

This disc is an entertaining and well-balanced mix of blues, Gospel, soul, love songs and ballads all performed with equal commitment and energy. There are ten original compositions, some co-written by his brother Chip, alongside material from, among others, Earl King, Percy Mayfield, Long John Baldry, (to whom the disc is dedicated), Johnny Cash and Louis Jordan. The vocals from Sanders are distinctively gutsy and heartfelt throughout, and on “I’d Rather Go Blind� from the pens of Ellington Jordon and Billy foster, he is joined by the much in demand vocalist Kathi McDonald. This slow paced soulful ballad is one of the many highlights, and I just wish there could have been more titles with this outstandingly charismatic and engaging performer.

Sanders writes commanding original material and in 2004 his song “Foreclose on the House of Love� was nominated for song of the year at the W.C. Handy Awards. The version here swings along at a dynamic pace while Baldry’s “Midnight in New Orleans� has this impressive band as tight as you could possibly get – with a tenor sax solo from Sanders that adds even more energy to this already highly charged outfit.

This band of Tim Porter (guitar), Dennis Marcenko (bass), Darryl Havers (Hammond Organ and accordion), Chris Nordquist (drums), and Rob Bracken (harmonica) are equally at home playing slow atmospheric ballads or racing along at a dynamic pace, and all playing important roles on this outstandingly entertaining set. Sanders proves himself not only an inventive and skilled musician, but a bandleader and arranger of some importance. I certainly hope there is more to come from this outfit and I shall keep an eye out for the DVD.
Rating: 10 – Bob Tilling Blues in Britain Magazine
- Blues in Britain Magazine


"Feedback from Maestros, Muppets and Friends"

"I thought you did an amazing job and made my job so much easier. All
the vocal complexities you added just really elevated the song.
Really great work John. Bravo on Your work"
William Ross, Music Director, 2007 Academy Awards, Producer & Music director for Barbara Streisand and film composer.

"That was an amazing performance, and I loved your band. I"It's All Blues to Me" and "One Crazy Night" are favorites of mine from your earlier album, and they are stuck in my head once again. I have to tell you one of my favorite things was "I Never Saw it Coming." The change of style was terrific; it really enhanced the set, and it made me want to hear you write more songs in other styles. "
Dave Goelz, AKA "Gonzo" of the Muppets

"I've been hearing Doc Goes Hollywood all along, and I think it's tremendous. Can't wait to hear the finished deal. Your work on it is spectacular." Great work John,
Huey Lewis

HEY JOHN LEE ...
YOU'RE A BLESSING AND A GIFT ... WISHING YOU AND JUDY ALL GOOD THINGS.
YOU'VE ALWAYS GOT A ROOM IN MY HEART ...
PAUL WILLIAMS, Oscar Winning Singer Actor Songwriter

How delightful it was to share the stage with you and your magical musicality. I so look forward to working with you again"
Melissa Manchester, singer/Songwriter

"Sound Funky up in Here", Mike Finnigan, Keyboards, Crosby Stills & Nash, Jimi Hendrix,
Dave Mason, keb Mo


I just tuned in to your site. It sounds great. I love that Louis Jordan number. (Saturday Night Fish Fry)
Reese Wynans, Keyboards for Stevie Ray Vaughan
- World Blue Productions


Discography

World Blue, Hypertension/BMG Records, Europe 1995
Mozart Rhythm and Romance, Raw Records 1999
It's All Blues To Me, Independent Blues CD, 2000
Single, nominated for blues song of the year 2004
Beacon of Light, independent Gospel CD, 2001
Live at Rock Beach, independent blues CD
Doc Goes Hollywood, April 2008, Strokeland Records
Bucket Full of Blues, PAO Records, Europe, 2008
Now getting airplay on Jazz 91, Toronto,
ORF, National Radio, Austria,
Live Radio Broadcast, CBC Radio Canada

John Lee Sanders is distributed digitally on Ioda digital Alliance, and in Europe on PAO Records

Photos

Bio

New Orleans Deep Fried Funk, Boogie Piano, in a Bucket Full of Blues! John Lee will headline the San Vito Blues and Soul festival this summer in Italy along with Blues legend, Robben Ford. His new CD, Bucket Full of blues is getting rave reviews in Austria and Germany, and is getting airplay also in Canada

For the 1st 25 years of his life, John was raised in the Louisiana Mississippi delta, immersed in the wealth of Jazz, blues and Gospel music that became the DNA Of North American pop music for the next 50 years. His childhood encounters with the likes of Elvis Presley and Dr. Martin Luther King are part of the landscape that influenced this gifted piano, sax & vocal performer and composer. At 12 years old, John Lee was billed as �Birmingham�s answer to Little Stevie Wonder� and opened for many R&B legends.

His song "Foreclose on the House of Love" reached number 9 on the blues charts in 2004, and a WC Handy Nomination for Blues song of the year,
The year 2007 brought an Emmy nomination for song of the year from the long running Soap Opera, Bold & Beautiful, in the jazz ballad "Just One Kiss"

John Lee was influenced by the sounds of Cajun, Zydeco, New Orleans Funk and Gospel. He received a musical scholarship and studied saxophone, guitar and piano. While studying in Rome Italy, he met Professor Longhair and Dr. John at the Montreux Jazz Fest and formed a lifelong passion for New Orleans piano.

Since the 70's, John Lee's musical resume is like a history lesson of American Pop, Jazz and R&B, recording /performing with legends such as Willie Nelson, John Lee Hooker, Jimmy Witherspoon, Freddie King, Dr. John, The Meters, Chuck Berry, Jimmy Page, Tower of Power, Sam Moore, Mary Wells & Stevie Wonder.

John Lee has performed at Festivals all over Europe and North America, He is one-of-a-kind, and his breadth in musical genre rivals his mastery of instruments and disciplines in the field. He can sit in front of a piano and transport you from a smoky New Orleans Cajun bar to a blues club in Chicago to an uptown Jazz club in Manhattan.
Blues Biographer David Ritz wrote..........
�he�s hitched a ride from Memphis, dealing with the ghosts of Highway 61, arriving in New Orleans in order to comfort us with the good news: that true music is truer than ever. His songs, full-bodied and blood-washed, are rooted in reality. He reminds us that blues are concerned with neither nostalgia nor self-pity. John Lee Sanders� blues are about nothing less a renewal of strength, a resurrection of the human spirit, a projection of hard-earned hope and a declaration of extravagant love. �

"You did an amazing job and made my job so much easier. All the vocal complexities you added just really elevated the song.
Really great work John. Bravo on Your work"
William Ross, Music Director, 2007 Academy Awards, Producer & Music director for Barbara Streisand and film composer.

"I've been hearing Doc Goes Hollywood all along, and I think it's tremendous. Can't wait to hear the finished deal. Your work on it is spectacular." Great work John,
Huey Lewis