R&B soulman Lee Fields has waited a lifetime to check Tucson off his been-there-seen-that list of cities and towns he’s played.
And on Sunday, Sept. 3, the singer who has often been compared to James Brown — he bears a striking resemblance to the late singer — will get the chance.
“I’m very excited about coming through that way,” Lee said from his New Jersey home last week during a phone call to chat about his Tucson debut at the 2017 Hotel Congress HoCo Fest. “It’s going to be my first time and I’m very excited. That’s a city that I’ve always wanted to play and now I get my chance.”
When he uses the word “always,” Fields is referring to decades worth of always. He’s been touring around the country and world since 1969, when he recorded his first single that launched his R&B/soul music career.
We caught up with the 66-year-old father of three as he was packing for a three-day trip to Paris to perform at a weekend music festival. Since we’ve never seen him on a Tucson stage, we asked him what we can expect.
“We believe in high energy. We believe in bringing just enough of everything, enough ballads and enough high-energy songs,” he began, and that led to a conversation about his career, his musical philosophies and his dynamic young band The Expressions that has been with him since 2009.
Here are excerpts from that interview.
What we can expect from his show: “I like to bring joy. I like people to feel good and be happy. I want to bring joy and happiness. I want, and I pray that people get up on their toes and enjoy the moment, go to that place called euphoria. The beauty of the trip is the trip itself, the experience of feeling happy and happier and happier until you get to that moment you feel total joy. That’s what we try to do. It’s not myself or the band that delivers this. It’s all of us, all of us becoming united in the music and the feeling. That’s what it’s all about. The only thing the audience has to do is let themselves relax and enjoy the music.”
Yes, his band is young: “I’ve always been a person with futuristic views. I felt years ago that the band would be coming. When I first started in the late ‘60s, I always thought that someday there would be a band coming. And although it took 40 years for this band to materialize, it was well worth the wait. These young individuals understand musically what I am trying to do. And what I am trying to do musically is (connect) with people. They consider whatever energy they can possibly conjure up to make that happen. Musically we are on the same page. Everybody fits really well together and I thank God for delivering this band for me.”
Taking away a lesson from 2016 album “Special Night” : “There’s a song called (‘Where Is the Love’) about situations of the day. It’s about caring about each other, loving each other, but where did we go wrong because I see so much turmoil today. … Now it’s a lot of the ‘me’ things today; it’s about me, me, me, but it’s supposed to be about us. … We are on a spaceship called Earth together traveling in this galactic scene not knowing what direction we are actually going in or where we are, but we’re on this ship. If we continue to demean things, the possibility of arriving at our destination is becoming less possible. But if we’re all on this ship together and it’s about ‘us,’ the possibility of us getting to our destination is highly possible.”
And making life about “us” could be the secret to his 48-year marriage. “If you have someone that stays by your side and understands what you do and people are on the same page, it’s a beautiful thing. She’s my soul mate.”
No plans to slow down: “I enjoy what I do and I’m truly honored to be continually working. I’m very appreciative of that. I’m feeling very good and excited about coming to Tucson. I feel like we’re going to have a great time.”
And while he’s in Tucson, he will be a tourist: “I’m going to make sure that my manager knows that I want to be a tourist for a while and experience that wonderful city. I want to explore (Tucson).