AJ Lee & Blue Summit
“AJ Lee & Blue Summit are pure, beautiful American music. Soaring harmonies, top notch picking and strumming as well as a healthy respect and reverence for the classic country, bluegrass and folk music of the past all add up to a band who are masters of the genre. That’s not to say that AJ Lee & Blue Summit are antiquated in any way. While the band tips a hat to the American masters of the past, their sound is modern and thoroughly of today. The band are great torch bearers of the music that helped build America. ”
-Eric Oblander – Musician, Producer of Rise Up on BCAN (Buckeye Community Arts network)
AJ Lee and Blue Summit made their first appearance in Santa Cruz in 2015. Led by singer, songwriter, and mandolinist, AJ Lee, the bluegrass band has performed all over the world, but found home in California’s Bay Area. In 2019, they released their debut album, Like I Used To. Their second full length project, I’ll Come Back, comes out August 2021 – with a national tour in support of the record ongoing.
Unlike their first record, which featured experimentation with session musicians and electric instruments, the new project is a pure reflection of the live sound of the group, hearkening back to their acoustic roots. Each band member performs at their peak, and the variety of songs on the record caters to their broad fanbase. Certain tracks (“Put Your Head Down,” and “Faithful,”) fall more in the classic bluegrass realm of songwriting, while others (“Lemons and Tangerines,” and “I’ll Come Back,”) fall into that hard-to-define realm of acoustic Americana that blends mesmerizing lyricism and acoustic mastery.
Although falling loosely under the bluegrass label, AJLBS generally plays sans banjo, with Sullivan Tuttle and Scott Gates on steel-stringed acoustic guitars, AJ on mandolin, Jan Purat on fiddle, and Chad Bowen on upright bass – a configuration effectively used to create unique space and texture in the arrangements not as commonly found in the music of their peers. Drawing from influences such as country, soul, swing, rock, and jam music, the band uses the lens of bluegrass as a vessel through which to express and explore the thread that binds and unifies all great music.
AJ Lee, lead vocals, mandolin
Scott Gates, guitar
Sullivan Tuttle, guitar
Chad Bowen, bass
Jan Purat, fiddle
Awards & Honors NCBS Best Female Vocalist (2020, Nine-Time Winner)
NCBS Best Bluegrass Band (2020)
NCBS Best Mandolin Player (2020)
NCBS Best Guitar Player (2020)
Freshgrass Band Contest Winner (2019)
IBMA Momentum Vocalist of the Year (2019)
Winfield National Flatpicking Contest, 2nd Place (2019)
What do you get when you group together IBMA’s momentum vocalist of the year with a Winfield national flatpicking guitar finalist, astounding fiddling playing, and singing? Add in a healthy mix of bluegrass, classic country, and folk, along with amazing harmonies and jaw-dropping instrumentals, and you get California’s own AJ Lee & Blue Summit. Drawing from influences such as country, soul, swing, rock, and jam music, the band uses the lens of bluegrass as a vessel through which to express and explore the thread that binds and unifies all great music. This quintet is fronted by songwriter AJ Lee on lead vocals and mandolin, Scott Gates on guitar, Sullivan Tuttle on guitar, Chad Bowen on bass, and Jan Purat on fiddle. Hold on to your hats during these sets, folks. We cannot wait to Meltdown with this prodigious group!