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Amos Lee

Amos Lee brought his undeniable talent to The Fillmore on Saturday, October 21, 2017. He is on his first solo tour after years of opening for acts like Norah Jones, Jack Johnson, and Adele. He entertained the crowd with his soulful mesmerizing voice.

© Splice Magazine – Kelly Harmer. Please do not alter images.

He expressed gratitude to those in attendance and was very playful, even allowing fans to yell out songs they wanted to hear. He played fan favorites like El Camino, Careless, and Learned A Lot. He was very down to earth and interactive which the crowd loved. His voice is a beautiful mix of rock, folk, and soul; Amos Lee is sure to be a household name in no time.

Amos Lee

Over the course of more than a dozen years and six studio albums, Amos Lee has continued to evolve, develop, and challenge himself as a musician. With SPIRIT, he makes his biggest creative leap yet.

Most notably, for the first time, Lee acted as his own producer. While his last two albums bore the stamp of strong producers—Joey Burns of Calexico on 2011’s Mission Bell (which debuted at Number One on the Billboard 200, Amazon, iTunes charts, and spun off a hit single with “Windows are Rolled Down”) and Jay Joyce (Little Big Town, Eric Church, Cage the Elephant) on 2013’s Mountains of Sorrow, Rivers of Song—Lee finally felt ready to take over the helm.

“I’ve been wanting to produce my own record for a long time,” he says, explaining that he met with numerous candidates before concluding that he should make the move. “What I wanted to provide was a place
for musicians to come and feel they were able to express themselves and contribute in their own voice the way I was able to contribute to mine.”

Lee’s sense of ambition for SPIRIT largely derived from his own live performing experiences in recent
years. “Working with folks like the LA Philharmonic and the Mobile, Alabama Community Gospel Choir opened my mind to the possibility of pushing the edges of arrangement away from solitary moments into more collaborative, community experiences,” he says. “These were transformative creative opportunities that I never dreamed I would have. To stand on stage and be equal parts participant and observer during these career-defining moments was such a thrill, and I credit the singers, arrangers, and conductors for being so open and generous to the songs.”

Along with such monumental events as working with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra (a performance which yielded Lee’s most recent release, Live from Red Rocks), being a bandleader over the last decade has also helped Lee hone his craft as an arranger. “I have a great, great band—the most gentle, genuine, musically open-minded people,” he says. “I push them some, but they always respond with creativity, and they inspire me to open things up musically. The versatility of my live band has been a gradual concept I’ve been working on since I started playing at the club The Tin Angel in Philly in 2002. Back then, we would play three- or four- hour shows. We had horn sections, violins, extended jams, improvisational songs, and whatever else would come from the ether. This current group of players I have on the road with me has re-inspired me to be more open, and less protective. I think SPIRIT reflects this attitude, and the vibrations are very many reflections of the connections.

“I’ve always loved such a wide range of music,” Lee adds, discussing some new influences, which were pulling him in a new sonic direction. “I’ve been listening to a lot of Schoolboy Q, Drake, the earlier stuff by
The Weeknd, and I was wanting to open up that box a little more,” he says. “I’ve always loved ’90s R&B, and now with streaming services, it’s so easy to sample so much new music.”

To begin the new project, he began assembling musicians who he felt could blend a dynamic yet organic marriage of modern rhythm with classic instrumentation. “I chose the players because I had this instinct and hunger to challenge myself and expand,” says Lee, “and the foundation of this record was built when I chose the rhythm section.”

A performance by the Robert Glasper Trio in Philadelphia led Lee to the realization
that Mark Colenburg was the drummer he was looking for. “I remember watching Mark play with such incredible facility and musicality,” he says. “He’s such a diverse and soulful listener. It was one of those eureka moments, and he elevated everything so much.”

Lee had known bassist Adam Blackstone (who’s played alongside artists from Jay-Z to Al Green to Justin Timberlake) for years but had never worked with him. “Adam is a genius,” he says. “He’s playing and hearing everything four bars ahead of everyone else. As a first-time producer, he was such a blessing to have.” Finding a three-day window when both of these busy players were available, Lee—along with his live band’s musical director, Jaron Olevsky—went to Nashville. They knocked out ten songs, most in one or two takes, and the core of SPIRIT was formed.

“We had never played with this kind of rhythm section before,” says Lee. “And we came away from these sessions with a hybrid sound I wasn’t able to find in my previous records, but which I’ve always gravitated to as a listener—real gospel-soul-R&B stuff.”

This new energy is most apparent in a song like “Vaporize,” which served as a jumping-off point for
Lee’s vision of the record. But it was equally important that the album’s more straightforward, “singer-songwriter”-style songs were infused with a different approach. “With something like ‘Highways and Clouds,’ I didn’t want to just do the standard waltz feel that’s led by the acoustic guitar,” he says. “I wanted to add dimensions to the arrangements and try to transform them, rhythmically and instrumentally, so that the album was cohesive. The demo versions of these songs are remarkably different from what came out through the recording process, and it was so much fun to explore feels and textures and bear witness to the transformation.

“The song ‘One Lonely Light’ had kind of a small, short verse with a sweeping chorus,” he continues. “I was always under the impression that if you just write a good song and play it, that’s the magic of it—which is not untrue, but now I also want to think about arrangements that can be impactful in a live setting as
well. On my first album, I didn’t think about any of that, and Lee Alexander did such a great job making that album all about me and my songs and voice. But I’ve picked up enough information and experience that now I can inject what I’ve learned from working with so many great producers into helping mold arrangements that are more in tune with what I’m doing live.”

Not that it was easy learning the ropes as a producer. “It’s not always magic-making,” says Lee with a laugh. “There’s a lot of grinding it out, with people you maybe don’t have a lot of history with, but it was such a joyous experience, even in those harder creative times.”

For Amos Lee, SPIRIT is the fulfillment of dreams and aspirations—musical, personal, and professional—that he’s had for a long time. “All you can ask for as an artist is the chance to create what you hear and feel inside of yourself,” he says. “The performances by everyone gave me such a strong place to draw from, and being more connected to the arrangements made it easier and more fun to sing. For my first time producing, I could not have been luckier—I was able to get into the heart of every single moment of this record.”

Amos Lee:

     

The Fillmore Detroit:

     

Splice Photojournalist: Kelly Harmer

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The first album I ever owned was: ELO – Out of the Blue

My first concert was: Stevie Ray Vaugh at the Capital Theater in Passaic, NJ

The last concert I attended was: Gasparilla Music Festival featuring The Roots

If I could have attended any concert in history, I’d go back in time and see: Pantera

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What was the first concert you photographed? Candlebox

If you could photograph any concert in history, what would it be? Stevie Ray Vaugh Alpine Valley Music Theater 1990 – his last concert

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The last movie I saw was: Star Wars – The Last Jedi

My favorite website is: Instagram

My favorite food is: A ribeye

My most treasured possession is: My daughters and my cameras

My biggest pet peeve is: Driving too slow in the left lane

My favorite place in the world is: In the pit at the front of the stage.

My dream car is: Ford Mustang

An interesting fact about me that people don’t expect is:  I look nowhere near my age.

When you’re not photographing great concerts, writing about them, interviewing artists, doing album reviews… what can we find you doing? Listening to music and discovering new bands

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I try to capture as much energy and emotion from the event I can. I want my photos to make you feel like you were there, and know what there felt like.

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I enjoy: Music, Art, Cold Beer

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My first concert was: Pink Floyd

The last concert I attended was: Black Label Society

If I could have attended any concert in history, I’d go back in time and see: Woodstock

Favorite non-photography activity? Listening to Music

What was the first concert you photographed? Motograter

If you could photograph any concert in history, what would it be? Jimi Hendrix, anywhere.

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What was the first concert you reviewed? Motograter, it was never published

What was your favorite interview? Not many interviews yet, but chatting about music with Tyler Connely from Theory was cool!

If you could interview any celebrity in history, who would it be? Jimi Hendrix

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My favorite food is: Pizza

Five items that are always in your refrigerator: Diet Mt. Dew, Gatorade, Eggs, Cheese, and something that is going bad.

My favorite non-musical activity: Relaxing

My most treasured possession is: My Family

My biggest phobia is: Failing

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My dream car is: Dodge Hellcat

My hidden talents are: I am a fine artist

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Guilty Pleasures: collecting vinyl

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What was the first concert you photographed? Bald Eagle Mountain and Two Cow Garage

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I enjoy music, video games, satire, philosophy

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I work: I am a full time student working retail and an internship with Vinnie Mac. I also freelance concerts for my personal website.

I enjoy: Attending concerts, anything and everything spooky, going on hikes, and my camera.

Goals/Dreams: As of now, my goal is to graduate school and get a job in the music industry working as a tour manager or publicist.

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I believe I can bring not only my unique eye for photography and creative ideas, but also my forever growing knowledge in public relation and social media.

Splice (Bucket) List: Foo Fighters, Weezer, Knocked Loose, The 1975, John Mayer, and Modest Mouse.

Guilty Pleasures: My biggest guilty pleasures are naps and Red Bull. They don’t go together at all, but I couldn’t get through a day without either.

The first album I ever owned was: All Time Low

My first concert was: John Mayer

The last concert I attended was: Warped Tour 2018

If I could have attended any concert in history, I’d go back in time and see: Spice Girls

Favorite non-photography activity? Hiking

What was the first concert you photographed? Chase Huglin

If you could photograph any concert in history, what would it be? Foo Fighters

If you could interview any celebrity in history, who would it be? John Mayer

The last movie I saw was: Heathers

My favorite book is: Cell by Stephen King

My favorite TV show is: It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

My favorite website is: Twitter

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My most treasured possession is: Camera

My biggest phobia is: Heights

My biggest pet peeve is: Loud chewing

My favorite place in the world is: Chicago

When you’re not photographing great concerts, writing about them, interviewing artists, doing album reviews… what can we find you doing? Honestly you can find me at more concerts. Even if I’m not working, I’m still there. Concerts have such an atmosphere that I absolutely love to be in. I can never get enough.

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Goals/Dreams: Travel the world with my camera and music then eventually settling down with a home by the ocean. A simple dream, but that's good enough for me.

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Guilty Pleasures: eating fruit bowls at 3 am while watching 90's movies

I work: At Starbucks

I enjoy: Going to concerts

Goals/Dreams: I hope to become a tour photographer

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My first concert was: Jason Michael Carroll when I was 6 years old and it was an interesting experience.

The last concert I attended was: Harry Hudson

If I could have attended any concert in history, I’d go back in time and see: Michael Jackson or Hannah Montana when I was between the ages of 6-11

If you could photograph any concert in history, what would it be? Machine Gun Kelly currently or Woodstock

If you could interview any celebrity in history, who would it be? Brendon Urie

My favorite book is: This is Where it Ends

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Splice (Bucket) List: Guns & Roses, Depeche Mode, Metallica, Bjork

Guilty Pleasures: Ariana Grande, Justin Timberlake, Morrissey

The first album I ever owned was: Run DMC Raising Hell

My first concert was: Red Hot Chili Peppers Live at VCU Shafer Court

The last concert I attended was: American Nightmare

Favorite non-photography activity? Drawing

What was the first concert you photographed? First major band was AFI in Charleston South Carolina

If you could photograph any concert in history, what would it be? Woodstock

What was the first concert you reviewed? Morrissey Live at Red Rocks, Morrison Colorado

What was your favorite interview? Gwar during GwarBQ

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My favorite food is: Vegan “Chickn”

Five items that are always in your refrigerator: Almond Milk, Hot Sauce, Tofu, Veg Chickn, Sunkist Grape

My favorite non-musical activity: Riding Motorcycles

My most treasured possession is: my photo equipment

My biggest phobia is: drowning

My biggest pet peeve is: personal space

My favorite place in the world is: Hawaii

My dream car is: Electric VW Bus

An interesting fact about me that people don’t expect is:  I’m 6 foot 4 inches tall with a lot of tattoos

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My goal is to continuously improve my skills as a photographer. I want my photos to tell a story, pull someone in, lead them on a journey and make them smile!

I work: The week as an Engineer; My free time as a Photographer

I enjoy: Being around people and having lots of fun! Part is spending time with my family, but I really enjoy discovering music, traveling and being outdoors.

Goals/Dreams: My goal is to continuously improve my skills as a photographer. I want my photos to tell a story, pull someone in, lead them on a journey and make them smile!

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The WOW factor. I want Splice’s audience to have the experience as if they were at the concert themselves through my lens.

Splice (Bucket) List: Oh my, such a long list here, but I’ll keep it short: Rolling Stones, Metallica, Alice In Chains, Kenny Chesney, Alison Krauss, Paul McCartney, Ozzy Osbourne, Rob Zombie, ZZ Top, Mark Lanegan, Red Wanting Blue

Guilty Pleasures: Going to the movies with a large bucket of buttered popcorn

The last concert I attended was: Joe Satriani G3 Tour 2018 at the Hard Rock Rocksino

If I could have attended any concert in history, I’d go back in time and see: Johnny Cash, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis, Sex Pistols, Buck Owens, Waylon Jennings, Chuck Berry

Favorite non-photography activity? Aside from my family, I really enjoy attending motorsport events, airshows and hot rod cruise nights during the summer. Camera in hand of course!

What was the first concert you photographed? The Reverend Horton Heat was my first time photographing a concert

If you could photograph any concert in history, what would it be? Tough question, as I wish I could have photographed both Soundgarden & Nirvana

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Kristen Derr

My first concert was New Kids on the Block when I was 8

I work: software developer and photographer

I enjoy: traveling, sewing, cats, and snakes

Goals/Dreams: Travel as much as possible

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Concert photos from large venues and smaller clubs!

Splice (Bucket) List: Thursday, Circa Survive, Jawbreaker, Finch (if they ever get back together…)

Guilty Pleasures: reading advice columns

The first album I ever owned was: The Offspring- Smash

My first concert was: New Kids on the Block when I was 8

The last concert I attended was: Pianos Become the Teeth

Favorite non-photography activity? Creating anything! I draw, build things, and design and make most of my own clothes.

What was the first concert you photographed? My friends Jonathan Monument

If you could photograph any concert in history, what would it be? I’ll always regret not getting into concert photography until after Finch broke up.

My most treasured possession is: My picture collection, going all the way back to my 35mm film camera from the 90s.

My biggest pet peeve is: When people drive slowly down the on-ramp and stop at the bottom. The ramp is there for you to speed up, not slow down.

My favorite place in the world is: New Orleans

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Temma Hankin

Goals/Dreams: A house with an avocado tree in the yard, and a garden full of tomato and pepper plants, so I can have fresh guacamole and salsa at all times.

I work: In the entertainment industry

I enjoy: Spending quality time with my dog.

Goals/Dreams: A house with an avocado tree in the yard, and a garden full of tomato and pepper plants, so I can have fresh guacamole and salsa at all times.

Niche:
Tell us about your style, and what you contribute to Splice that makes you unique
Photography

Splice (Bucket) List: Andrew W.K., Chromeo, Jungle, Missy Elliott, Die Antwoord, and if you’ve got a time machine handy, David Bowie.

Guilty Pleasures: Singing songs to my dog/re-writing songs to be about my dog and then singing them to him.

The first album I ever owned was: I had a box full of Elvis, Michael Jackson, and Chipmunks cassettes. I’m sure that my parents heard “Heal the World” far more times than they ever wanted to.

My first concert was: Weird Al Yankovic

The last concert I attended was: Gramatik

My favorite book is: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Five items that are always in your refrigerator: Hot sauce, champagne, eggs, tofu, and garlic.

An interesting fact about me that people don’t expect is:  I used to drive a Cadillac hearse.

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