Toby Lee is just ten years old and has recorded an EP, under the supervision of another young British blues star, Laurence Jones.
Having started playing guitar at the age of 6, Toby Lee cites his heroes as BB King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix, and John Mayer. He has worked hard to earn the plaudits he has recently received. Joe Bonamassa said, “Toby is one of the future superstars of the blues”.
Lee has played on-stage with Walter Trout. He has played at BB King’s in Memphis with the All-Star Band. Chris Evans has had him on his BBC Radio 2 show and his TFI tv programme, including the New Years Eve special. He performs a weekly Onesie Jam, sponsored by a UK Onesie company that attracts extensive views. His recent Lemmy tribute jam has attracted hundreds of thousands of views.
The five-track EP pulls together some great musicians, too. Laurence Jones, who also produced the release, plays rhythm guitar. The remainder of the lineup includes Jack Alexander Timmis (ex Virgil and the Accelerators) on bass, Phil Wilson (Infamous Vampires) on drums, Victoria Klewin (Victoria Klewin and The TrueTones) on vocals, Amy Eftekhari on vocals, and a special guest appearance by Bernie Marsden.
The EP features three covers split by two original songs and flows well. Laurence works well with Toby, and it’s clear that they get along. It’s commendable that he has put the time in to work on this project and called on some great musical friends to collaborate.
The first track is “Let The Good Times Roll,” a song covered by many, including BB King, Muddy Waters, and Ray Charles. The BB King influence is evident; Lee’s style is similar. His version is excellent, helped by the outstanding vocal work of Klewin. Lee even adds backing vocals, along with the rest of the band, to make this a full team effort.
Next is an original piece; the title track, “Ten.” Co-written by Lee and Jones. It’s a funky-blues song, well written and sounds great. The lyrics are somewhat auto-biographical, too. Vocals are provided by Jones and Eftekhari, who work well together as they have done on previous projects. Toby’s guitar stands out, with some great riffs and licks over Jones’ backing guitar.
Next up is “Little by Little,” a Mel London song originally performed by Junior Wells in 1960. The track is a great blues boogie number to which Klewin’s vocals are perfectly suited. Steady playing by the band allows Lee to shine on the solos, which he shares with Marsden on this track. He is right at home here, and this song seems to fit his style perfectly.
Then comes “Offroadin’,” a track featuring just Lee on acoustic guitar and Laurence on the resonator. The instrumental track starts off with a jam between the Lee and Laurence, showing how well they work together. Their mutual respect is evident and the playing is simple but fantastic.
Then sadly, it’s over too soon. The closing track, “As the Years Go Passing By,” is a cover of the well-known Albert King song. The young Toby Lee can now add his name to the many blues practitioners who have played the venerable track. It is a slow blues song, which Lee plays superbly. The band members are tight and Lee’s guitar work is once more fantastic, including some excellent solos wrapped between layers of sublime vocals. The track is seven minutes of heaven that you don’t want to end. It makes a great finish to this perfectly formed EP.
Let’s hope a full album isn’t long to follow. This boy has some serious talent and will be wowing fans for years to come.
The EP is available to download on Itunes and Amazon. CDs and a limited vinyl run will follow shortly.