Our Open Mic Feature for February 20th is Chris Lee. Chris is a talented guitarist and singer who knows how to deliver a song with a good story. Appearing with Chris will be Steve Martin and Eric Gulliksen from the band ORPHEUS, along with a little help from Zak Jacobson.
Chris began his musical career singing in church. He drifted into rock and roll, influenced by Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, and Johnny Cash among others. Caught up in the folk music revival of the early sixties, he fell in love with the music of Harry Belafonte and the sounds of the Caribbean islands. Chris started playing coffee houses and other folk venues around the Boston area in the late sixties and early seventies, sometimes writing his own material. He met Jim Palana early on and they became friends. Jim’s songs make up a significant portion of the music Chris performs to this day.
A duo Chris formed with Dennis O’Neil played in bars, restaurants, hotels, and other venues in the early to mid-seventies. Chris left to play bass with Frank Damon from the mid-seventies to early eighties. Along with Jim Willis and Arthur Barnes, Bits and Pieces was formed in the late seventies. Art left and was replaced by Janine Allard who eventually became Chris’ wife. The band was sometimes made up of as many as nine pieces, but mainly was a duo after Janine left to raise their daughters. Bits and Pieces continued with some personnel changes until 2013. For much of their performing years, they were regarded as a country band, and were presented a number of awards by the Massachusetts Country Music Awards Association, including the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Along the way, Chris has played with a number of players in other groups, including Warren, “Bee,” Bachman, a gifted and well-regarded harmonica player. Some of these groups included Hobo Mojo, What Is, Chris and Dan, and more recently, the Meadowmuffins with former Orpheus members Eric “Snake” Gulliksen, and Steve Martin.