Many years ago when high school life was simple and zesty in the early 1980s, I was more than mildly obsessed with an Orange County rockabilly band called the Red Devils. My friend Jonny Ray slapped a blonde doghouse bass while his brother Dave Lee shredded a Gretsch Silver Jet and Scottie Campbell beat the drums. In the center of the stage was siren who shipwrecked the hearts of many young fans. Emy Lee had a voice that was created to shake rafters. Regrettably, the memory of that foursome’s time on the stage is only preserved via a few YouTube videos.
Through the miracle of technology, I was blasted back to yesteryear last Sunday afternoon when I was able to see Emy Lee perform online with fabulous musicians such as Kid Ramos (Fabulous Thunderbirds) and John Bazz (Blasters). Spectacular. One of the strange and wonderful sensations of life is being able to close your eyes and find yourself transported through well-preserved vocals and piping hot music. The brief set with selections from legends such as Billie Holiday, Ruth Brown, Wanda Jackson, and Janis Martin went by with the speed of a bullet train but brought a truckload of satisfaction.
The Los Angeles Times once described Emy Lee as a “magnetic singer” and the OC Weekly referred to her as “Ava Gardner in cowboy boots.” In her brilliant essay in John Doe’s book, “More Fun in the New World,” Maria McKee of Lone Justice fame described Emy Lee as “a gorgeous Puerto Rican girl dressed in perfect 1950s clothes” who “played a Charlie Christian guitar” and was being compared to Patsy Cline. It was all truth. Decades later, I can’t be more grateful for Stellar Shows and Concerts as well as Campus JAX in Newport Beach for my nostalgic Sunday afternoon Zoom call to less complicated days.