Lee Simpson

Chico singer/guitarist/ songwriter Lee Simpson (ex-Blue Dye Fire) calls his music “full-tilt Americana rock and roll.” I’d go a step further and call it Californiana. Like another well-known Chico band noted for its California sound, the Mother Hips, Simpson and his crew possess well-schooled suburban-country-rock chops and sincere—sometimes soaring—vocal harmonies. Simpson uses a varying line-up, both on the CD and when touring. The current road band includes local string man/singer Bruce MacMillan and Buffalo Creek drummer Nick Bearden. LS features an array of stellar players—including guitarist/singer Gary Dutra of Electric Circus fame, who also wrote track no. 8, “Doing Well”—playing originals written mainly by Simpson. Daniel Schuck’s organ on “Get It Right” recalls The Band’s Garth Hudson, and Simpson’s guitar opening on “Big City River” has a Southern-with-a-mellow-hint-of-Skynyrd sound. “Flying Blind” is both soaring and sincere and proudly pretty: “I know we might be flying blind/ I won’t leave you behind…” Thumbs-up on Dean Lafayette’s anchoring bass and the back-up vocals of Tom Molyneaux and Robin Dutra.