Gitlo Lee paid his dues in a way most modern blues musicians will, thank God, never see. Born and raised poor on a cotton/turpentine farm, the guy busted his butt by day but played a makeshift guitar at night and was so much a natural that, by the age of 13, Sonny Boy Williamson was determined to bring him out to the public. Lee's parents, though, were strict Christians and were having none of it. They knew what kind of life awaited their progeny on the road under such tutelage, so they refused and instead said "Yes" to an evangelist who also saw the boy's talents. That holier-than-thou man of the cloth of course turned out to be what Lee called "the biggest crook in the world", a womanizer, drinker, you name it, he likely did it, and Gitlo got exactly what his loving parents least desired. Sigh, this hypocritical culture is so nasty, it gave even Gitlo's very devout parents the blues. One saving grace, though, the reverend could sing his heart out, and that would be a very important factor for the budding bluesman.
And this is real blues, make no mistake. The stunning part is that Comin' Out the Hole marks Lee's debut, an emergence that's way way WAY overdue…by about 40 years! Praised by Gregg Allman, Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, and others, with a cool-ass rough and tumble singing voice and guitar style somewhere between Buddy Guy and Steve Cropper, often slung with a slight catch to it that's attractive as hell, Lee is one of those blues'ers who got lost in the chitlin circuit and East Coast grassroots touring loop, and very undeservedly so. The man wrote every song here and often carries himself with earthy wit and preternatural cool. Big Legged Woman has one of the hippest complicated fast-talking sections since David Bromberg's Won't be Your Fool, and Give Me a Beer is the anthem lovers of suds have been waiting for.
A quartet is the perfect stomping ground for Gitlo. Keyboardist Andrian Boudreaux colors the environs with just the right amount of roadhouse and honky-tonk as bassist Lee Allen Zeno and drummer Mike Burch set up the rostrum for Lee to tell stories, to slip jokes into the lyrics, to lean over and wink at the audience, play funky chords, rip off some tasty leads, and sing his gutbucket lines. Great stuff, no matter how you look at it…HOWEVER…I have a complaint to register. Now that we finally know of him, Lee owes us big time! Righteous music like this, and this is his first record? Oh no, that will not do! From this point on, he's gotta get out at least one CD a year. This stuff's way the hell too good for anything less. I'm warning him now that I'll petition Congress if necessary. I ain't had this much fun and feel good since Elvin Bishop sat in with Paul Butterfield on In My Own Dream 'n I'll be damned if I'll settle for just this one release.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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