It’s rare for any “new” Lester Butler or Red Devils material to be released now, more than 10 years since Butler’s passing. Which is why the 2008 DVD “Live at Moulin Blues Ospel 1998 — Lester’s Legendary Last Gig” is such a special document.
Recorded at Butler’s last gig, just a week before his untimely death, the DVD captures the harpist and his band (Alex Schultz on guitar, Eddie Clark on drums and Mike Hightower on bass) at the height of their powers, performing a stellar set at the annual blues festival in the Netherlands. That Lester looks so happy throughout the disc is a real bonus.
I’ve just picked up a copy of the DVD, though many of us have seen these performances in bootleg form. Over the next few weeks, I plan a series of reviews looking at the concert and extras:
- The final concert;
- the large photo gallery collection;
- and a remarkable three-song bonus set from the Red Devils at Moulin circa 1993.
Before even playing the disc, I read through the liner notes, which alone are worth the price of admission. With a quote from Lester’s longtime girlfriend Lori Peralta and memories from sister Ginny Tura and drummer Clark, the sleeve paints a well-rounded and rare picture of Butler. But the most surprising information comes from Alex Shultz. His reflections on the Devils and Butler are perceptive and exciting:
At the time I was playing with Rod Piazza, a very precise retro sounding outfit known for our accurate and virtuosic playing. Lester and his gang exploded every principle I thought important to a blues band, bit by bit. There was a moment of revelation when I realized they had a lot more of the magic of, say, a Howlin’ Wolf, then we in our perfection ever would; Lester and his evolving band were no “posers,” but in fact it was possible that everyone else was. …
I’m a guy that has played with a lot of harmonica players, some of the greats of our time. Lester wasn’t the technician that some of these guys were, but I began to hear and feel something from him that was deeper, that had more raw emotion in it. It was really something to do with the blues. Meantime, he was listening mostly to Snoop Dog [sic], Iggy Pop, and who knows what else.
More to come ..
6 thoughts on “DVD: Live at Moulin 1998 — Lester’s Legendary Last Gig”
Just wanted to add that after his last concert at the Moulin Blues Festival Lester was invited on the stage on Sunday May 3rd at a Paladins concert in de Effenaar in Eindhoven, NL (which is very close to Ospel where the Moulin Blues Festival was held). There he joined Dave Gonzales and friends to play along with a few songs. I don’t remember any titles but I do assume they also played one or two Red Devils or 13 Songs.
I assume this was really his last performance before he flew back to LA and his untimely death.
Jeroen, this is great information, thank you for sharing!
Did you attend that May 3 gig, or know someone who did? I’d like to get it verified through a flier, or photo or newspaper clipping.
I think when they refer to this as being “Lester’s last gig,” it is referring to his last scheduled performance under his own name. I wouldn’t count a jam as being his “last gig.”
I’ve always assumed he probably played some harp or sang — even on stage — at some point between May 2 and May 9, and that he probably hung around some after the Moulin performance before returning to the States.
That week seems to be a bit of a gray area in the timeline, so any help we can get filling in the blanks would be great. Take care!
I would like to buy; DVD Live at Moulin 1998 — Lester’s Legendary Last Gig – Is that possible ??
Please contact me, on my e-mail.
Copenhagen – Denmark
@Lars Sorry but this thing is hard to come by. You can find many clips on YouTube. You can find them on eBay every once in a while, but quite expensive: http://www.ebay.com/itm/LESTER-BUTLER-LIVE-DVD-RED-DEVILS-BLUES-BAND-/271465564203?roken=cUgayN&soutkn=vNFYk4
I am sure there are darker corners of the Internet where you might be able to get one.
Excellent dvd. Sadly long out-of-print by know. Second hand copies pop up from time to time or you can head over to youtube where you can find the full show.
A gentle man Lester was – he loved his mom – he loved to dance at Meadow Muffins – everybody wanted to be his girlfriend – loved to hear him blow his harp – I remember his Samoyed – Moon Dog – and that we drove to New York from Colorado Springs after my Army time was over – I’m sick to hear of what happened to him – Rest In Peace my lovely man – I’m so sorry…I hope those cowards rot in hell.