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Louisville Psych-Soul Band The Jesse Lees to Perform at Lowertown Arts & Music Festival

Winters Photography Co./Winters Photography Co.

The Lowertown Arts & Music Festival will be held on Friday, May 10, and Saturday, May 11, in Paducah's historic Lowertown Arts District. This year's lineup includes The Jesse Lees, a psychedelic soul band from Louisville. Fronted by Otis Junior on vocals, Adonis Gentry on guitar, Brandon Smith on keyboard, and Chris King on drums, the band will perform on Friday evening. Morning Edition host Daniel Hurt speaks to Gentry ahead of the band's performance.

Gentry describes The Jesse Lees as "a psychedelic soul kind of thing. As far as every member of the band, I think a lot of us are influenced by neo-soul like D'Angelo, Frank Ocean, and Outkast, but then also some more rock and roll stuff — Jimi Hendrix, Tina Turner, and Prince or Sly & The Family Stone. The band first came together when Junior approached Gentry about working on his solo EP. They played at an event in Louisville some friends had organized, which led to another opportunity to play at the 21C in Lexington.

"It started as a one-time show kind of thing," Gentry explains. "We put some people together to do this one show. It was right before the Derby. We did that show and were approached by someone who said, 'Hey, I'm throwing a big Oak Day party in a couple of weeks. 21C in Lexington? Can y'all play it?' It's like, shoot, I guess we're a band now. Over the years [we] kind of went through some changes. I think it started out as a really big thing with background singers and horns and everything. That's not the most sustainable thing, so we got smaller, and I think we got a little louder."

Gentry said Junior writes most of the lyrics, but the music is a collective effort. The band shares audio files of each other's personal recordings. "I feel like we've had original ideas. I've been at home messing around with the guitar and send some recordings to Otis like, 'Hey, dude, what do you think about this?' And I'll forget about it. A couple of weeks later, it'll be like, 'Hey, I picked up that voice memo you sent me and wrote a song to it,'" Gentry says. "We've done it that way before. We've also covered songs and went so far from the original that we were like, 'Hey, we can probably just write our own songs.'"

The Jesse Lees will perform at the Lowertown Arts & Music Festival on Friday, May 10. Set time TBD. Check the Lowertown Arts & Music Festival's official website for the most up-to-date information.

"I think they'll get our best," Gentry says of the band's upcoming performance. "All we set out to do. We love to go out and do our best, so I think it'd be a good night to just expect good vibes." For more information on The Jesse Lees, visit their website.

Hurt is a Livingston County native and has been a political consultant for a little over a decade. He currently hosts a local talk show “River City Presents”, produced by Paducah2, which features live musical performances, academic discussion, and community spotlights.
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