Smokestack Lightnin' Home Page -- The Blues Profile Page
Vocalist, songwriter, record producer, journalist, and author Keri Leigh is one of these multi-talented, accomplished individuals that the blues music world can't seem to get enough of. And the fact that she's barely 30 years old ensures that she'll be around, pursuing her number one passion -- singing the blues -- for a long time.
Her latest album, Arrival, (1995), for the Jackson, MS-based Malaco Records label, isn't with her usual backing band, the Blue Devils, but it was recorded at Muscle Shoals Studios (which Malaco owns), and Leigh and her husband acted as co-producers of the record.
Leigh moved to Austin from her native Oklahoma with her guitarist/husband Mark Lyon, in 1990. Fortunately, they were welcomed for the most part with open arms by the Austin blues community, and certainly by Clifford Antone, owner of Antone's (blues nightclub), who booked them into his place every week for about a year. Within a year of so of her moving to Austin, she began work on her first book, Stevie Ray: Soul to Soul, (Taylor Books, Dallas), a passionate account of the ups and downs of the late guitarist's all-too-short life. Leigh first met Vaughan when she interviewed him in 1986, and after several interviews, they became friends. In May 1990, they began work on what was to be his autobiography, but in August of that year, Vaughan was killed in a helicopter accident in Wisconsin.
Leigh's recordings all have a Joplin-esque quality to them, and one way to describe her singing style is as a Janis Joplin for the '90s; in fact, some critics have described her as the greatest voice to come out of Texas since Joplin.
Leigh has used her background as a radio and newspaper journalist to get publicity for the Blue Devils, and a glance at her overflowing press-clips folder shows what a hustler she is. But Leigh and her band work as hard as any of the other touring blues musicians around the U.S., and they spend upwards of 150 nights a year on the road. Leigh's husband Lyon is one of the most naturally gifted slide guitarists you'll ever hear, and the ease with which he handles the instrument makes it look deceptively simple. In fact, good blues guitar is very difficult to play, but Lyon has all the moves down pat.
Leigh and her Blue Devils have two releases out on Amazing Records (a now-defunct label), No Beginner (1993) and Blue Devil Blues, their debut (1991), in addition to their latest Malaco album. Arrival, consisting of one-half originals and one-half cover tunes, is certainly the most accessible of her recordings. Leigh and her group have many more good years ahead of them; wherever they go, their affable ways earn them new friends and fans in the blues world. They also have a knack for making new blues converts out of rock & rollers. ~ Richard Skelly, Rovi