Local Wire

Leon Blue @ Tempe Center for the Arts

When you're born with the name Leon Blue, it's hard to imagine life taking you down any path other than that of a badass boogie-woogie blues pianist. Blue — real name, natch — has racked up plenty of high-profile work as a sideman, manning the keys for The Ike & Tina Turner revue, Albert King, B.B. King, Roy Milton, and even Muddy Waters. Waters, the story goes, didn't want to hire back his regular piano man after Blue did his thing for him. His own vocal work reveals a well-worn, nuanced voice, and songs like "She Wants to Sell My Monkey" and "You Been Goofin'," cut with The Mannish Boys, display his unique, country-inflected humor and an ease that only comes from not taking oneself too seriously. Whether or not Blue will be singing during his performance as part of Bob Corritore's Blues Bash II, where he'll be joined by Bobby Jones, Chris James, Patrick Rynn and Brian Fahey, remains to be seen, but if the crew has much sense they'll hand the mic over to the man for a few numbers.

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Jason P. Woodbury is a music and pop-culture writer based in Phoenix. He is a regular contributor to the music blog Aquarium Drunkard and co-host of the Transmissions podcast.