Little J.B.,” they called him, back when his first release came out in 1969, for his unmistakable resemblance in sound and manner to James Brown. But Lee Fields recalls (and maybe transcends?) Brown in several other respects as well: stamina, perseverance and work ethic. The Southern Fried funk legend has seen a career of up and downs, but it has pretty much been “up” from the ’90s to the present.
North Carolina native Fields has recorded for a bevy of labels in his career – 12 to be precise, including London, Ace, Desco, Daptone and most recently the retro-minded Brooklyn label Truth & Soul, on which Fields released 2014’s excellent sophisticated funk session Emma Jean. Fields’s gritty southern-inflected voice rides atop retro grooves and swanky arrangements. Unlike his vintage early output, Emma Jean features the artist’s ruminative and vibey side, though he can never fully lose the grit and wail that are his essential voice. It is the tough-but-tender duality that lends Fields his irresistible appeal.
Recent highlights of Fields’s career since he teamed with the Expressions include opening slots for the Black Keys, Pretty Lights and Wilco, as well as performing in front of 7,000 people at Roskilde, 10,000 people at Red Rocks and sold-out shows in New York, San Francisco, Los Angles, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, London, Montreal, Austin, Houston, New Orleans and many more.
Lee Fields & the Expressions will ring out the old and ring in the new with their old-school soul and R&B for a New Year’s Eve dance party at Club Helsinki in Hudson. Tickets cost $45 general admission, $55 for reserved club seating. Admission is for persons aged 21 and over only. The doors open at 6 p.m. and the show begins at 9. DJ GIO will also be on hand. For tickets and more information, visit www.helsinkihudson.com. Club Helsinki is located at 405 Columbia Street in Hudson.
Lee Fields & the Expressions New Year’s Eve Dance Party, Wednesday, December 31, 9 p.m., $45/$55, 21+, Club Helsinki, 405 Columbia Street, Hudson.