David’s Guest at the Desk: Robbie Stiefel on Leon Russell

By: David Landry and Robbie Stiefel

Leon Russell ain't stoppin' anytime soon.

Robbie came over one evening and heard a song spinning on the record player that he claimed to know, but by a man he could not name. I told him: this is the legendary Leon Russell. And it just so happened that Leon was headed to the Oriental, so we bought tickets. I had planned to craft a write-up for Leon’s show, but in the morning I woke up to a “David’s Desk by Robbie Stiefel” email. And so it follows:

He wobbles out from the wings of the stage with a cane looking very old and crooked. He sets his cane on the stage floor and seats himself at a white baby grand piano striped with red, blue, and green. He immediately launches into Ray Charles' 1954 hit, "I Got a Woman". He looks mean and defiant as if to say, "F*ck gravity and time.” You quickly realize that his “wobble” was a “saunter” and he ain’t stiff or crooked, he’s spry! His playing belies the old man's hands.

Photo Credit: David Landry

Photo Credit: David Landry

This IS and WAS what rock and roll has always been: the organic protest of everything that slows us down. At 73, Leon proves himself a patriarch; an old school musician who plays because he knows nothing else. A phrase like “Keep on Keepin’ On” was born from the need to describe men like Leon. Keep on, Leon.

-David Landry and Robbie Stiefel at the desk

David’s Guest Robbie Stiefel: Robbie Stiefel is a producer and musician. He lives in Boulder, Colorado. Click here to read more about Robbie.

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.