Lee Mitchell is a singer, songwriter, guitarist with over 40 years of playing, writing and performing experience; over a hundred recorded works; an ability to write in a multitude of genres such as blues, folk, ballad, jazz, pop, instrumental and ragtime; a deal with Impact Music Publishers; a series of published books ("Classical Masters For Acoustic Guitar" published by Spartan Press Music Ltd.); and a masterly ability to inspire and bring out strong emotions in people through his words and music.
Well I don't know about you, but I would love to get inside the head of such a man. Let's have a little look shall we?!
Music seems to be the most natural thing in the world to Lee, which isn't surprising given the amount of musical talent there is in his family: many of his cousins are very talented acoustic guitarists; he has a cousin who, apparently, can “sing like a canary” - I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not!; his Uncle Harry was an avid listener of music; his father sang in a skiffle band; he had a pet tortoise that played the cello. Okay, I made the last one up but the rest is all true.
The first song he can remember hearing was the Bob Dylan version of 'House Of The Rising Sun'. Dylan's haunting rendition had a huge impact on the young Lee and it has stayed with him ever since. It was, however, his Uncle Harry that played the biggest role in Lee's early musical development. It was he that inspired Lee to play the guitar and to listen to artists such as Big Bill Broonzy and Rambling Jack Elliot. These folk and blues influences during his formative years laid the foundation of what was to come.
Although Lee's talents extend to playing keyboards, banjo, harmonica, and bass; it is the guitar that is his true love. It doesn't matter if it's acoustic or electric, 12 string or 6 string, classical or blues; Lee can do it all. The first song he learnt to play on the guitar was an old blues song called “Take This Hammer” by LeadBelly. It's familiar 3 chord structure was enough to spark the flame of musical desire in Lee. His musical family of course encouraged his playing and at he age of 16 he was lucky enough to meet Mark Knopfler who gave him further encouragement and inspiration. He is a true lover of the guitar – referring to it as being, “like the child I never knew” - and listens to guitarists of all styles: Paco De Lucia, Django Rheinhardt, John Renbourn, Julian Bream, to name but a few.
Lee has to write songs. It is an integral part of him, a hunger that needs to be satisfied and a way to vent his emotions.
His songs do not often form from a musical idea just popping into his head, but pretty much anything can inspire him to write: historical events, books, the mood he is in, even mythology. Once he has a subject matter he will footle about on his guitar until his ear catches onto something. This is his canvas onto which his musical brush strokes will create, what was referred to by one listener as, "a flower of God".
He sees his role as a musician is to give people something to change their mood, something they can interpret in their own way, take into their own lives, and hopefully it may help them in some way. As a modest man he is quick to point out that what one person may hear as a 'flower of God', another listener may find pretty boring!
What does a man of Lee's musical ability dream of? Performing at the O2 arena? Playing an open air concert in Times Square? Recording a double platinum selling album? To become a musical legend, always to be remembered in the annals of time? Well... he used dream of having a cottage with a swimming people near a wood somewhere in Cornwall, UK and a beautiful woman to share it all with. But he has since found the beautiful woman and made her his wife; as a consequence of which, all of his previous dreams have paled into insignificance - aah.