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Lazy Lester

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  • Born: Torras, LA
  • Years Active: 1950s, 1960s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s

Albums

Biography All Music Guide

All Music Guide:

Contrary to his colorful sobriquet, (supplied by prolific south Louisiana producer J.D. Miller), harpist Lazy Lester swears he never was all that lethargic. But he seldom was in much of a hurry either, although the relentless pace of his Excello Records swamp blues classics "I'm a Lover Not a Fighter" and "I Hear You Knockin'" might contradict that statement, too.

While growing up outside of Baton Rouge, Leslie Johnson was influenced by Jimmy Reed and Little Walter. But his entree into playing professionally arrived quite by accident: while riding on a bus sometime in the mid-'50s, he met guitarist Lightnin' Slim, who was searching fruitlessly for an AWOL harpist. The two's styles meshed seamlessly, and Lester became Slim's harpist of choice.

In 1956, Lester stepped out front at Miller's Crowley, Louisiana studios for the first time. During an extended stint at Excello that stretched into 1965, he waxed such gems as "Sugar Coated Love," "If You Think I've Lost You," and "The Same Thing Could Happen to You." Lester proved invaluable as an imaginative sideman for Miller, utilizing everything from cardboard boxes and claves to whacking on newspapers in order to locate the correct percussive sound for the producer's output.

Lester gave up playing for almost two decades (and didn't particularly miss it, either), settling in Pontiac MI in 1975. But Fred Reif (Lester's manager, booking agent, and rub board player) convinced the harpist that a return to action was in order, inaugurating a comeback that included a nice 1988 album for Alligator, Harp & Soul. His swamp blues sound remained as atmospheric (and, dare one say, energetic) as ever on subsequent releases including 1998's All Over You and 2001's Blues Stop Knockin', featuring Jimmie Vaughan.

eMusic Features

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Lazy Lester: The Return of the Last True Bluesman

By John Morthland, Contributor

Lazy Lester, the last of the Big Four of swamp blues, is enjoying one of his periodic comebacks. His 2011 album You Better Listen netted him nominations for three Blues Music Awards (Best Traditional Blues Album, Traditional Blues Artist of the Year and Harmonica Player of the Year), with the outcome to be announced May 10 in Memphis. The album was recorded in Norway for a Norwegian label, with the star being backed by the… more »

1

The Ponderosa Stomp

By John Morthland, Contributor

The Ponderosa Stomp, which is organized essentially by record collectors and takes place in New Orleans mid-week between the two Jazzfest weekends, is an eMusic.com kind of event. It's a two-night, marathon (6 PM to 4 AM) celebration of the unsung heroes and one-hit wonders of American music, including early rock 'n'roll, rockabilly, swamp pop, blues, soul, funk and garage bands. Needless to say, many of them record for independent labels. So many, in fact,… more »