Color: Electric Blue | Weight: 180 Gram
** 1LP. in a DELUXE GATEFOLD JACKET **
Spirit Hustler is modern classic rock from San Francisco born of an acoustic heart and layered with cosmic electricity. Its self-titled debut puts a fresh spin on the traditional album with a distinct opener and closer on each side, but rather than an overwrought “concept” album,” this is an album with a creative concept—a Theatre of the Mind experience in two acts. Imaginative songs are mini-movies inspired by actual experiences and rendered into animated audio art. Songs titles begin to tell the story originating with “The Spirit of ’69” and going on adventures such as “Devil Deal,” “Hard-Fought Magic” and “Mine is a Gypsy Soul” before ultimately encountering “The Spirit of the Beast.” Echoes of classic rock heroes and hints of Easter eggs are hidden everywhere on the musical hunt, yet Spirit Hustler is entirely its own animal.
Jimmy Leslie is the writer and star of the Spirit Hustler’s sonic cinema. A fixture on the Bay Area music scene for many moons, Leslie’s eclectic resume is insightful. He is internationally respected as the Frets Editor at Guitar Player magazine, and the two instrumentals on Spirit Hustler showcase his “freehand” percussive fingerstyle. Leslie has interviewed everyone from Carlos Santana to Jack White, and coordinated GP Presents events ranging from Kaki King to Buddy Guy. Jimmy has shared stages with Tab Benoit, Luther Dickinson, Sonny Landreth, and Devon Allman. Leslie co-founded the Star City and Guitarfish Music Festivals, and authored the eco-musical Guitarfish Adventures. Leslie’s solo records Surfin’ the Swamp and Dance Until Forever feature players from Galactic and the Honey Island Swamp Band, respectively. Jimmy has toured internationally with Shana Morrison (Van’s daughter), pioneered livetronica with LunaGroove, and gone the indie rock route with Vistor Jim.
Spirit Hustler cameos include strings by Jason Crosby (John McLaughlin), mandolin by James Nash (The Waybacks), guitar from Eric McFadden (P-Funk), keyboards by Alex Jordan (Midnight North) and backing vocals and acoustic guitar courtesy of champion Christie Lenée. Tahoe diva Jetta Cole delivers a Grammy-worthy vocal on “Gypsy Soul” and plays the she-devil to perfection on “Devil Deal.” The core band does the heavy lifting. Its beating heart is drummer Jeremy Hoenig (Melvin Seals & the JGB). Steven La Bella delivers funky, melodic bass while slide guitar ace Jules Leyhe provides Allman-esque laser lead lines that compliment Leslie’s open-tuned acoustic in unexplored yet hauntingly familiar fashion.
Spirit Hustler was recorded and mixed at Lucky Recording Company in Brisbane, California where the Go Go’s recorded their latest single, “Club Zero.” Producer Mikel Ross has worked extensively with Corrosion of Conformity. Engineer Travis Kasperbauer is a Butch Vig disciple who cut his teeth at Smart Studios. Grammy-winner Jake Eckert and Jeff Watkins mastered the audio at Rhythm Shack Studios in New Orleans. Both are key members of the New Orleans Suspects. Original art comes courtesy of Alan Forbes who created the infamous Black Crowes logo, and has illustrated for Queens of the Stone Age and Howlin’ Rain.
Considering the array of talents on display Leslie adopted the moniker Spirit Hustler, emerging from the eerie coronavirus era like a butterfly from a cocoon. This is the most exciting cosmic rock to blossom from the Bay Area since the golden era spearheaded by Bill Graham. The Guitarfish and Star City Music Festivals acted as the Fillmore, bringing a diverse group of artists together to form a sum far beyond its individuals—virtually timeless.