(All images by Nicole Sergent, see the full gallery here)
In addition to being fans of alliteration, we at Behind Second Lines are wildly partial towards the musical stylings of one Lazy Lester. We have had the pleasure of seeing Lester perform Lazy Lester got his start in the right place to play the blues-Louisiana. Leslie Carswell Johnson can attribute much of his musical success to having a variety of mentors and talented performers to grow with including Lightnin Hopkins, Slim Harpo, and Lightnin Slim. He jumped on board into recording sessions with Excello Records, a label founded in 1952 dedicated to showcasing the talents of black gospel musicians. The label slowly morphed into so much more as it broadcasted rhythm and blues nationwide, providing a platform that blues artists like Lazy Lester could share their work upon. Excello offered collaboration opportunities with which Lazy Lester performed and recorded studio hits with other musicians. Known for being a prolific songwriter, Lester claims that many songs produced by his then contemporaries were actually pieces he wrote himself. Lester actually rose to fame after recording with Lightin Slim with Excello to fill in for a missing musician.
Still performing to this day, Lazy Lester serves as a living piece of history. His iconic style is reflective of the “Swamp Blues,” a style of performance, identifiable by regional specific influences and a slow tempo. Most recently at his Baton Rouge Blues festival performance, Lester donned an Excello Records 60 year anniversary cap, boasting of the enduring fortitude of the Swamp Blues. His iconic slow drawl and heavy vocals still thrive to this day. Lester’s performances at The Blues Festival always feature some of his hits like, “I’m a Lover Not a Fighter,” and, “They Call me Lazy,” but also offer a taste of whatever Lester feels like playing. Listeners should anticipate some vicious harmonica solos. Personally I had the honor of meeting this artist and he is warm towards fans in a way that only a man who has been performing for over 50 years can be. If you have the fortune of seeing this artist perform, you will be all the better for it. If you can’t take it from me, check out a video of one of his performances below. We hope to see you at a Lazy Lester performance in the future!
Want more BR Blues Fest Coverage? Check out our write ups here!