(CBS Seattle) — Lee Fields, the ageless soul singer, makes his way to Seattle on Tuesday with his backing band The Expressions.
Yes, there are a handful of artists who’ve been touring since the 1960s; however, the ones you’re likely familiar with have had luxurious support from major record labels. The Rolling Stones, for example, have been roaming the globe since 1964. Impressive, yes, but if Live Nation was to offer you millions of dollars to do a year-long, international trek — as it does for the Stones — the decision would not be difficult.
Lee Fields is not in that category. The 62-year-old North Carolina native has relentlessly toured the club circuit as well as served as a support act on major tours for bands like Kool and the Gang and the Hip Huggers.
Fields’ career of 43-years-and-counting has churned out releases on twelve different record labels — and he still refuses to put down the microphone. Fields credits his fans for defining his character as a performer.
“I’m able to focus in on exactly how the masses are feeling by my music,” Fields says by phone. He says being one with the crowd at each individual performance separates him from his contemporaries — as does having multiple genres (funk, soul, blues, etc) infused in his overall sound. “I don’t try and change my style — what I try to do is take a song and make it work within the confines of what I do.”
“If the music is good, it doesn’t matter what genre it is,” Fields says.
Fields’ live show is the soul of his music. His goal is to give everyone in the crowd the feeling audience members seek when they attend a live show.
“You feel like you went on an excursion, but you didn’t even leave the building to get there,” he says. “We [The Expressions] try to deliver that at every show.”
Soul music’s culture has gone through all kinds of changes over the past 50 years. The passion for the music and the music itself are as strong as they’ve ever been, but without modern powerhouse labels like Motown or Stax, access to new sounds has thinned. Obtaining classic soul records or seeing the greats live isn’t tough, but because soul now finds itself having almost a cult or underground following, finding artists of today who produce the same emotion is a challenge for the average listener.
“I try to be as vigilant as possible when it comes down to new artists and new music,” says Fields. He adds that the soul community works in a cyclical way; the veterans keep tabs on the new artists and the younger acts always keep the pioneers in mind.
When it comes to Seattle, Fields says the city is something special for any artist on the road because of its beauty. “The scenic view never escapes me, and I don’t think it ever will,” he says. “it’s so beautiful … and I’m anxious to return.”
Lee Fields & The Expressions play Neumos Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Doors are at 8:00 pm, The Bayous and Down North open.
Tickets can be purchased here.
–Chris Coyle, CBS Seattle