Alvin Lee’s catchphrase for his band, The Lee Boys, is “Sit down if you can.”
Whether you want to call the Boys’ music “hot rock gospel,” a term Alvin himself often employs, or the more broadly used “sacred steel” associated with the Church of God in the southern U.S., matters little. This is music that moves you and gets you moving.
The six band members are all family, and they all started playing together in church in their Miami-area hometown. Alvin’s father was the minister, and his older brother Glenn set the tone for the music, which broadened the traditional gospel-blues with funk and soul borrowed indirectly from artists such as Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and George Clinton.
Following the death of both his father and brother in 2000, Alvin Lee formally created The Lee Boys as a way to spread this musical message.
“All our songs are gospel-based,” Lee told The Beat, not once shying away from the spiritual nature of the songs.
“That spiritual element is where it’s at,” he said. “But it doesn’t really matter what you believe when you’re in a club and you let the music talk. It really soothes you and moves you, and you get so into the jamming that you forget where you’re at and you’re just moving and clapping and dancing.”
Lee added his father was a big fan of country music, and this influence always found its way into the Boys’ jams, giving them a little bit of a feel of, as Lee called it, “The Allman Brothers meets gospel.”
Which maybe lessens the surprise at the patronage the band found for its most recent album, Testify: Warren Haynes, the longtime axeman for The Allman Brothers and founder of blues-jam outfit Gov’t Mule. A big fan of the band, Haynes asked first if he could sit in on a couple of tracks for the record, then agreed to release the album on his own Evil Teen Records.
“It’s a true blessing,” Lee said. “He’s been a real trooper man for The Lee Boys.”
“We had played with (Gov’t Mule) before and they’re so awesome.”
Now they’re on tour together again, and Lee said he expects the two sets to feature plenty of “sitting in and jamming with each other.”
Make that standing in. Because, you know, “Sit down if you can.”