Thursday 17 Apr

Dustin Prinz - Eleven

Few musicians take the time to master their instrument in the way that Oklahoma City singer-songwriter Dustin Prinz has; he’s a guitar virtuoso in every sense of the word, and Eleven gives him the chance to show just how far he can push that skill.
04/15/2014 | Comments 0

Horse Thief – Fear in Bliss

Listening to Horse Thief’s previous release — the haphazardly melodramatic Grow Deep, Grow Wild — felt like a chore. Whatever potential the Oklahoma City folk-pop act demonstrated on the EP was obscured behind a formulaic, contrived and ultimately hollow cloud. But it at least offered a glimmer of promise for a band consisting of, frankly, five pretty talented dudes. Critics saw it; the band’s management saw it; its current label, Bella Union, saw it; and its increasingly fervid fan base saw it.
04/08/2014 | Comments 0

Colourmusic — May You Marry Rich

There’s always a sense of danger when debuting songs in a live setting and playing them well. Without having heard the studio versions, expectations are set according to the live incarnations. But capturing the breadth of free-flowing atmosphere and sheer volume on a disc, vinyl or digital file isn’t the easiest thing to do, especially for a band as vociferous as Colourmusic.
04/01/2014 | Comments 0

Em and the MotherSuperiors — Churches into Theaters

As titles go, Churches into Theaters is an apt descriptor for the debut album from Oklahoma City rockers Em and the MotherSuperiors. It’s a reverential record, one that shares the gospel of classic rock, blues and soul but embraces the need to refashion it for modern times, channeling The Dead Weather, Grace Potter and Cage the Elephant along the way.
03/25/2014 | Comments 0

Rachel Brashear — Revolution

Rachel Brashear’s second EP, Revolution, starts with a kick to the shins.
03/18/2014 | Comments 0
Home · Articles · Music · Music · After 30 years of struggle,...

After 30 years of struggle, singer/songwriter Phil Lee finally found the key to his kingdom

Chris Parker September 16th, 2010

Phil Lee blew through plenty of opportunity and spent more than 30 years pursuing fortune and fame before getting his first record deal in 2000.

Phil Lee
9 p.m. Friday
the Blue Door
2805 N. McKinley

Phil Lee doesn't take life too seriously. The Nashville, Tenn., singer/songwriter blew through plenty of opportunity and spent more than 30 years pursuing fortune and fame before getting his first record deal in 2000.

"I'm like the man time forgot," Lee said.

He was on the verge of bigger things once.

"You couldn't get any verge-ier," he said, and by the early '70s, he'd jammed with Richard Thompson of English folk act Fairport Convention, started a friendship with Neil Young, and collaborated with arranger Jack Nitzsche (Rolling Stones, Phil Spector) on a score for the 1980 Al Pacino film, "Cruising." Lee even signed a record deal, although nothing came of it.

"I didn't have the talent to measure up to the 'They'll take what I give 'em' attitude. I certainly don't have that now," he said. "It's more like I'm selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door: 'I'd just love to come in your house, and play you some songs. I know you'll like them. If you buy a record, I'll give you this T-shirt and a hat.'"   

Lee finally gave up the dream in the '90s, and went to truck-driving school. He said he swore off all musicians, but no sooner had Lee graduated than Flying Burrito Brother "Sneaky" Pete Kleinow called.

Next thing you know, Lee was on a flight to Los Angeles. Although the pair recorded a batch of songs, they went unreleased. Yet it convinced Lee he wasn't quite ready to give up the musical ghost.

Getting some money together, he and some friends began recording some of the songs he'd collected over the years " tunes based on his wild youth and outrageous experiences.

When the money ran out, producer/guitarist Richard Bennett (Steve Earle, Mark Knopfler, Emmylou Harris) gave him the money to finish what would become 2000's "The Mighty King of Love," featuring Lee's wry humor and nimble tenor.

For a long time, he struggled to be somebody. Once he stopped caring, he found a lot of peace.

"Once you get past the point where you know you aren't going to make it ... for some people, it's like a devastating thing, but for me, it was like being let out of prison," he said. "I keep getting advice from all these rock-star buddies: 'You could make a million dollars if you only ...' I said, 'Losing is the cornerstone of my success.' I don't want to do anything that's going to fuck that up."

Indeed, his songs, which veer from country to folk and rock, is rife with a sense of the lovable loser that Lee's become. You can hear it on the title track of 2001's "You Should've Known Me Then," where he croons, "I was always bugging everyone / I'd give 'em no relief / They were dying to notify my next of kin / You should've known me then." It was the kind of behavior that led Waylon Jennings to remark, "That guy needs to switch to decaf."

Two years ago, Lee released his third album, "So Long, It's Been Good to Know You," full of slower, folkier fare. Taking it on the road, he found a whole new batch of fans. Never content with a good thing, he's collected a handful of more rock-oriented songs for his forthcoming album.

He's even secured a commitment from a big-name musician to work with him. When he told his friend Jerry Lee Lewis who it was, Lee said The Killer told him, "This might really work. Not just critical acclaim " you might make some money."

Still, Lee's a bit too superstitious to spill the beans.

"They've agreed to do it. They'll remain unnamed until it actually happens," he said. "We've already played together. But it's like those guys agree to a lot of things. They'll record when they see the color of my money. Until then, all bets are off." "Chris Parker
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