The Native American struggles of the 17th century inspired banjo player and keyboardist Rick Lee
's best-known tune, "Natick."Written in 1984 and first recorded by Solomon's Seal
, the folk/chamber music ensemble that Lee
led with his former wife, Lorraine
, the song is a heartbreaking account of a tragic event. It was re-recorded by Lee
as the title track of his 1995 solo album. While the original version featured fiddle, whistle, dulcimer, and banjo, the new recording is a more modern rendition featuring bass, drums, banjo, guitar, and two vocalists.
A native of New York who grew up in Texas, Lee
hails from a musical family. His grandmother was a church organist and pianist, while his mother played piano. His earliest memories are lying under the piano and listening to them play duets. Lee
's grandfather possessed a sweet tenor vocal tone and had been an acquaintance of Uncle Dave Macon
Traditional ballads provided most of Lee
's early repertoire. Although he occasionally performed in folk music coffeehouses with his ex-wife on dulcimer, music was initially only a hobby. Moving to the Boston area in 1963, Lee
hosted a folk radio show broadcast by public radio station WGBH-FM, and worked as a producer for television station WGBH.
The Lees started taking their musical careers seriously in 1970. Their first album, Living in the Trees, was recorded in 1975. They recorded two subsequent duo albums, Contrasts and Leeway for Dulcimer. Together with whistle player Sarah Bauhan
and fiddler Jane Orzechowski
, they recorded two albums, Greengate and The Old Road as Solomon's Seal
began playing piano and electronic keyboards in 1969. After separating from his ex-wife, he worked for a few years with guitarist Holly Gettings. In addition to performing as a duo, Lee
and Gettings collaborated with old-timey mandolin and guitar player Andy May
, and Lee
and Gettings also performed several shows of gypsy fiddle tunes and traditional Brazilian music with fiddler Joel Glassman. Since 1994, Lee
has continued to work with Andy May
and has worked in a trio with Dave Howard
(guitar) and Bill Walach
(mandolin, bass). He has also worked periodically with multi-instrumentalist Bob Zentz
and released There's Talk About a Fence in 1999.