Third generation bluegrass picker Lee Boy Simpson is performing with Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks at the Bob Hope Theatre. Here, he shares his love for the sounds of the ’70s and the messages his music carries.
Q: How would you describe the sounds and style of your music?
A: We’re definitely children of the ’70s, as opposed to many of our heroes, who are children of the ’60s. I grew up on John Prine; he made that song “Angel for Montgomery” famous. Well, Bonnie Raitt wrote it, and he made it famous.
I was influenced by Rickie Lee Jones, Neil Young, Harvest ... .
My wife is heavily influenced by Credence and, oddly enough — which makes us a strange serendipitous show — Susan Tedeschi.
Q: What’s your most recent album?
A: When we got married, it was an impromptu thing ... we had just released a record called “Way Out in the Dark.”
That record just got released in March. It would be an understatement to say it was an landmark (in my life). It’s the greatest thing I’ve ever done, second to becoming a parent and marrying my wife.
Q: Was anyone in your family musical, or is this something you picked up on your own?
A: I’m a third generation bluegrass picker. My grandmother played the dobro. My dad (recently) gave me a picture of her in 1929 with a dobro ... The movie “Oh Brother Where Art Though” is my family story. They all played country music, picked fruit by day and played music (at night).
Q: You seem to come from a pretty close family.
A: I’m a better man for having my wife in my life every day. We have three kids – Maya, 12, and twin boys Ryan and Shane, 18.
Q: Where do you live now?
A: We live in Laguna Beach. I was born in Yuba City.
Q: Have you ever been to Lodi?
A: Yeah, I come from a big agricultural family, and my grandfather and cousins were not only farmers, but mechanical engineers in the Central Valley.
I’m a nomad because of my family, so I’m up and down the 5 freeway or the 70 and the 99 (highways). Staying in one place too long makes me discontent.
Q: What will your show be like at the Bob Hope Theatre? Describe the experience.
A: Come be in love with us. I’ve been playing for my whole life; I have the veteran experience that is very apparent. My wife, who has been doing it professionally for only a few years, has a certain amount of innocence and freshness. We’re doing it for what we would like to think are the right reasons: For no reason at all and because it’s what we love to do. Gram Parsons and Annie Lou Harris and Johnny Cash and June Carter are the closest thing to liken us to.
Q: What are some of the reactions you get from listeners?
A: The most important reaction that I get that lets me know that we’re doing a successful job is that it’s honest. People say it reminds them of something they’ve heard, even though they’ve never heard it before. It has this familiarity to it.
Anything with staying power has its foot in its roots and its other foot in its future.
Q: What do you do when your not performing or working?
A: We’re very family oriented. Our whole family is musical. We tend to be very, very busy these days. Any chance we have, we’re at the beach or we’re writing.
I work with developmentally disabled adults and kids, some with autism and Asperger’s (Disorder). Northern California has one of the highest concentrations of Asperger’s and autism in the United States because Butte County is one of the poorest counties in the nation.
Q: What kind of messages are in your music?
A: How important it is that we have our own version of faith, even if it’s a lack of faith so that in our own time, in our own way we can learn our own lessons. That all things are perfect under the sun. Everything is as it should be, always has been — we just forget that. That grateful people are grateful and ungrateful people aren’t.
Q: Do you have any tips for people who are trying to start their career in music?
A: The best thing you can do is stay away from being a hater, to not have too many expectations for people because everyone’s trying to get through their day the best they can. Your time will come when your time comes. If you work hard and you work harder than everyone else, your time will come.
Contact Lodi Living editor Lauren Nelson at email@example.com.