Leon Russell? To call that cat “well traveled” would be one mother of an understatement. From his teenaged start in the rough-and-tumble honky tonks of 1950s Oklahoma to the swingin‘ go-go glam of the mid-60s Sunset Strip to the pinnacle of decadent ’70s hippie superstardom, the nefariously talented pianist-guitarist-singer-songwriter has unswervingly slammed head-on into just about every conceivable pop music situation, upped the ante and come out as an indisputable champion. Russell’s natural fact command of America’s musical vernacular reaches across the spectrum: He produced numerous albums for blues great Freddie King, while better known monarch B.B. King had a major hit with Russell’s “Hummingbird;” he’s enjoyed a long, close alliance with Willie Nelson, going back to the inaugural edition of Nelson’s famed Fourth of July picnics; as a teen, he toured for several months with Jerry Lee Lewis—definitely a not-for-the-timid gig—and after landing in Hollywood, he hung around with the likes of rockabilly rowdies Johnny & Dorsey Burnette and gender-bending lounge sensation Troy Walker; Russell’s illimitable talent quickly installed him as in-demand session player. Working for everyone from Phil Spector to Herb Alpert, Dean Martin to Marvin Gaye, Russell was defining, hands on, surf, hot rod, big beat, soul, pop and beyond. But that resume of a lifetime was just the start, and Russell’s ascension continues as a major rock & roll draw—and this little mid-day hootenanny at Pappy & Harriet’s comes loaded with unlimited potential for musical thrills.
Leon Russell w/Brad Mercer, The Acquitted at Pappy & Harriet’s Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Rd., Pioneertown, (760) 365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com. Sun, Nov. 8, doors open 3PM. Show 4PM. $20.