Lee Gates has Mississippi Mud running through his
veins. He also has blues genes, since he’s a first cousin to Albert
Collins. If Lee isn’t a true-blue, Mississippi Delta bluesman, then
nobody can carry that moniker.
Lee isn’t just a bluesman. He’s also a
Luther Allison-style blues rocker from Pontotoc, Mississippi. Lee
hasn’t had any of the breaks that many other less-skilled blues-rockers
have had in spite of his blazing guitar work and good writing skills.
He’s had several brushes with greatness, coming close to the golden
ring, but never quite reaching it. But he’s most certainly not lacking
the talent to still reach it. Maybe this time around.
Lee took a liking to the blues while still quite young, seven or eight,
to be exact. He regularly listened to BB King,
John Lee Hooker, and
Muddy Waters, and to a show out of
Memphis called Randy’s Record Shop, picking up a lesson here and there
from all the other blues players of the day. On top of that he got
musical instruction from his parents, both of whom played blues and
country blues. He also occasionally hung out with a group of white guys
who played country music, so Lee learned that as well.
Lee moved to Milwaukee in his early 20s, and has lived in that city for
most of his life, other than a couple of absences. He’s played all
throughout the Midwest, plus he’s played in California, Kansas, Europe,
Alabama, and a few other places. While in Milwaukee, he also played with
Sonny Boy Williamson, who
also lived in Milwaukee at the time.
The Lucy in the CD title is Lee’s guitar, and Touring With Lucy is Lee’s
third CD with Music Maker, which is based in North Carolina. Touring
With Lucy has nine tracks totaling 54 minutes and change. It starts out
with up-tempo blues shuffle, “Meet You on the Other Side of Town.” His
second selection, “I Can Hear Blues in My Head,” is a similar tempo with
a long instrumental lead-in. “I’m Leaving You Woman” follows in an
easygoing, slow blues with a familiar theme, and also with a lengthy
instrumental lead-in. The tempo picks up little in the next cut, then
slows down in the fifth track, a long, loping instrumental moan,
six-and-a-half minutes. The pace picks up when Lee gets on “Highway 94,”
a Chicago-style blues,
which is appropriate since Highway 94 leads to Chicago.