JAMES LEG TO RELEASE HIS LATEST SOLO ALBUM “BELOW THE BELT” SEPTEMBER 4TH VIA ALIVE NATURALSOUND RECORDS!
James Leg (aka John Wesley Myers of the Black Diamond Heavies) is set to release his second proper solo album, Below The Belt, later this summer. Back in his days with the Heavies, Leg laid the foundation for his solo work with his down-n-dirty keys, fervent live performances and trademark gruff howl mixed with equal measures of bourbon, butane & nicotine.
Following the success of both his acclaimed 2011 solo debut, Solitary Pleasure, and his 2012 joint venture with label-mates Left Lane Cruiser for the equally white-hot studio album, Painkillers, Leg recorded the tracks for Below The Belt earlier this year in the dead of winter with several guest musicians at Johnny Walker’s (Soledad Brothers, Cut In The Hill Gang) studio: Masonic Sounds located in a Masonic Lodge in Dayton, KY. The album was mixed by renowned producer/engineer Jim Diamond at Ghetto Recorders in Detroit.
Leg, the son of a Texas preacher, started playing piano when he was just six. Raised on southern gospel music, he began preaching at the church his father pastored at the age of 14. Two years later he became infected with the lure of rock-n-roll and eventually alcohol and drugs. It was this contrast of good & evil, heaven & hell that would affect not only his music – solo and otherwise – but also his impassioned live performances evoking some sort of fervid snake-handling Pentecostal preacher in the middle of a lung-busting, jugular-popping sermon (just replace the slippery vermin with a fifth of whiskey and Leg pounding on his signature Fender Rhodes and you get the picture).
On Below The Belt, the ghosts of Leg’s past haunt these 10 tracks. From the rafter-raising gospel cover of Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s “Up Above My Head,” to the menacing rocker of opening track “Dirty South,” the bluesy swagger of “Drink It Away” and an in-the-red cover of The Dirtbombs’ burning garage-rock stomper “Can’t Stop Thinking About It,” these numbers are guaranteed to loosen the floorboards of any juke-joint, dive bar or rock-n-roll piss-hole. Following a devilish re-working of The Cure’s “A Forest,” Leg ends the album with two decidedly more subdued tracks – “Disappearing” and the even gentler soulful ballad of “What More,” complete with heavenly call-and-response female harmonies. While this may suggest Leg moving towards a, dare we say, more mature musical direction, make no mistake that Below The Belt hits as hard and heavy as ever, and turns out to be one helluva rock-n-roll TKO.
Leg will be embarking on a number of headlining club tours in support of Below The Belt, including U.S. dates in Jul/Aug, a Deep Blues Festival performance in south Germany in Aug, UK & Ireland dates in Sep/Oct and finishing up the year in Europe in Oct/Nov. Specific tours dates for all of these runs to be announced soon.
James Leg’s Below The Belt will be released on limited vinyl, CD and digital formats on September 4th via Alive Naturalsound Records.
BELOW THE BELT TRACK LISTING:
01. Dirty South
02. Casa De Fuego
03. Up Above My Head
04. Drink It Away
05. October 3rd
06. Glass Jaw
07. Can’t Stop Thinking About It
08. A Forest
10. What More
JAMES LEG TOUR DATES:
August 1 @ Deep Blues Fest — Riegsee, DE
August 22 @ Whiskey War Fest — St Louis, MO
August 22 @ Whiskey War Fest — St. Charles, MO
August 23 @ The Lift — Dubuque, IA
August 25 @ Phatheadz — Green Bay, WI
August 26 @ Broken World Records — Winona, MN
August 27 @ Red Line Tap — Chicago, IL
August 28 @ Rock Island Brew Co — Rock Island, IL
(more worldwide dates to be announced soon)
HERE’S WHAT PEOPLE HAVE BEEN SAYING ABOUT JAMES LEG:
Dirty. Gritty. Awesome. Below The Belt is a hard-hitting record that is soaked in garage rock and raw blues. – DIFFUSER.FM
Some of the filthiest, most driving soul/jazz/blues-powered rock ‘n’ roll since T-Model Ford’s debut. – NO DEPRESSION
Long live rock and soul and pianos and devil horns. – POPMATTERS
… sounds as if Howlin’ Wolf punched the Black Keys in the throat and stole their band. – LOUISVILLE COURIER-JOURNAL
John Wesley Meyers is indeed a remarkably talented piano man…sort of like the Jerry Lee Lewis of our time, and of the blues-punk scene, but with somewhat of a gravelly, Waitsian singing voice. Solitary Pleasure has ten songs in all, eight of which are originals, and all of them exceptional. It is unquestionably an album that is meant to be listened to in its entirety. – EXAMINER
(Painkillers review) A combination of reverence toward the progenitors of the blues and a spirit of pure enjoyment that is rare to find. This is a fun record for anybody with a taste for the blues. – WYMA
Working outside the confines of his regular band [Black Diamond Heavies] finds Leg tapping into his extraordinary talent in ways that will leave listeners wondering why the hell he isn’t already on constant iPod rotation. Solitary Pleasure is a solid, great album. In fact, whether or not you’ve ever heard Black Diamond Heavies, this new CD is a must for local music enthusiasts—or even those who didn’t know that a talent like James Leg walks our streets. – CHATTANOOGA PULSE
Solitary Pleasure gives Leg the opportunity to tap the breaks. As tempos grind down, melodies long held underground rub their tired eyes in the light of day, and Leg seems to revel in the freedom afforded by this, showing greater emotion and ambition than one might believe based solely on his output with BDH. Nobody’s Fault is an almost disturbingly poignant number that pert near finds Leg sniffing radio fare, and could have easily slipped onto Waits’ Closing Time or Warren Zevon’s self-titled record without drawing fire. – MY OLD KENTUCKY BLOG
James Leg, a.k.a. John Wesley Myers – who was a part of the last line-up of the Immortal Lee County Killers and comprises one half of the Black Diamond Heavies – is releasing his solo debut, Solitary Pleasure, on April 5th, and it is a delight. Leg expands his usual repertoire into piano bar ditties and gospel while still serving up slipping, sliding, sweaty blues-tinged rock and heavy soul with take-me-as-you-find-me lyrics. He even dips into comedy with “No License (Song for the Caged Bird)”, a song that begins with a sad trombone, ends with a Three Stooges motif, and plays like Fats Waller at the end of a week-long bender in between, in an ode to one hell of a dame. – NO DEPRESSION
From his band the Black Diamond Heavies to his work with the Immortal Lee County Killers and contributions to albums by Scott H. Biram and Left Lane Cruiser on up to his new solo album, Solitary Pleasure, Myers is partially responsible for doling out some of the dirtiest, howl ingest, most searing punk-ass blues ever produced. – NOW THIS SOUND IS BRAVE
…a boisterous, hell-fiery solo album. – MINNEAPOLIS STAR-TRIBUNE
If the Black Keys sold their souls to the devil – they’d probably end up playing like this. – MAD MACKEREL
While Solitary Pleasure doesn’t stray far from Leg’s characteristic take on blues and soul, it adds an even stronger gospel edge, particularly on a cover of Link Wray’s “Fire and Brimstone.” And the frenzy is occasionally turned down a notch. “Georgia” sounds like a lost 1970s Southern rock hit, and “Whatever It Takes” even finds Leg singing in an uncharacteristically sweet vocal style. A couple of songs have an off-kilter cabaret feel, à la Tom Waits, and there’s even a quote of the Three Stooges theme for good measure. – ISTHMUS
Leg establishes himself in the style of an early era Leon Russell merged with some acute punk sensibilities. His keyboard work is both raw and multi-textured bringing a force of sound that clears the dust off your speakers. Like Russell, Leg also brings in a healthy dose of gospel fire that delivers another fervent level to the proceedings. – SWAMPLAND
John Wesley Myers’ voice sounds like a huge, coiled cobra doing a Louis Armstrong impression, which is to say menacing yet assuredly recognizable. The Black Diamond Heavies frontman puts that impressive instrument up front as James Leg. Over the rolling organ and lurching bassline of “Drowning In Fire,” off Solitary Pleasure, summons murky Mississippi Delta soul as lines like “Hell, it keeps on calling me” bubble to the surface. The “growler, shouter, and Fender Rhodes finger-f*cker” is winding down a well-worn, devilish path to salvation, but the gravitational pull of his blood-and-guts vocals makes him stand out from other blues travelers. – A.V. CLUB
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