During the ’80 and ‘90, the only blues band visitors to New Orleans would hear was Bryan Lee’s Jump Street Five Band at the Old Absinthe House on Bourbon Street. Blues veteran Bryan Lee, blind since childhood, became a true New Orleans blues institution and kept on delivering his own fiery brand of bluespower long after the Old Absinthe House was gone. This was a gig that went a long way to establish New Orleans as a blues town despite the fact that Lee’s style never really departed from his mid-west demeanor, making him the most Chicago-sounding band on the strip.
Born in 1943 on March 16, Two Rivers, Wisconsin, Lee lost his eyesight at the age of eight. His avid interest in early rock and blues was fostered through the 1950s with late night listening sessions via the Nashville-based radio station WLAC-AM, where he first encountered the sounds of the three Kings, Elmore James, T-Bone Walker and other influential bluesmen. By his late teens, he was playing rhythm guitar in a regional band called The Glaciers that covered Elvis Presley, Little Richard and Chuck Berry material. Through the ‘60s, Lee’s interest turned to Chicago blues and he soon found himself gigging in blues clubs throughout the Midwest. In January of 1982 (in the midst of a particularly cold Wisconsin winter), Lee relocated to New Orleans and for the next 14 years held down a steady gig playing five nights a week at the Old Absinthe House in the heart of the French Quarter. He subsequently went to the Opera House and 544 Club and remains one of the most crowd-pleasing acts on Bourbon Street to this day. Lee debuted on Justin Time in 1991 with The Blues Is and has since released a string of powerful outings on the label, including 1993’s Memphis Bound, 1995’s Braille Blues Daddy, 1997’s Live at the Old Absinthe House Bar Friday and Staurday Night, Crawfish Lady and more! His dynamic Blues Power Band was captured in concert at The Spectrum in Montreal on the Justin Time DVD, Live & Dangerous.