Raised on a turpentine farm among nine brothers and three sisters in Georgia, Gitlo Lee’s passion for the blues as a youngster was repressed by his devout Christian parents. Nonetheless, he sneaked around juke joints to listen to what some called the “devilish” sound of the blues. He even built himself a primitive guitar out of Prince Albert tobacco cans, a burned out tire and some wires tied to pennies. Gitlo got his name from an old field foreman watching the young Lee pick sweet potatoes who remarked “Boy, you sure know how to get low.”
Now in his sixties, “Gitlo” is releasing his first cd, Comin’ Out The Hole. Although this is first release, Gitlo is no novice. In fact, the onetime child prodigy has earned the respect of such well-known musicians as Gregg Allman, Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi for his original music and rich, Southern blues performances.
Gitlo’s father was a musician and taught his children to love music. But his father’s music was strictly gospel, and Gitlo heard music playing from the other side of the tracks.
“I would sneak in to the juke joints in nearby Tifton, to Miss Little Dehlia’s place. You could buy just about anything from her for a dime. She sold beer, cookies and candy, and she had the old blues guys come by to play,” he says. “Man, I just had to be involved. I wanted to play and I could feel what they were doing.” By the time he was 13, Gitlo was recognized as a local guitar phenomenon. When famous bluesman Sonny Boy Williamson came to town for a New Years Eve gig and needed a guitar player, he called Gitlo. The gig was so successful; he invited the teenager to join his band on the road.
Gitlo has remained about as grass roots as the blues can get. He has toured for 46 years up and down the Eastern Seaboard, headlining at clubs like BB King’s in Orlando, Florida. He now splits his time between South Georgia and Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, where his label, Chuckie Productions is based. To preview some of Gitlo’s music, visit his website: http://gitloblues.com.