Spirit Hustler is modern classic rock from the Bay Area born of an acoustic heart and layered with cosmic electricity. Its self-titled debut (released online 05/22/22) puts a fresh spin on the traditional album with a distinct opener and closer on each side, but rather than an overwrought “concept” album,” this is an album with a creative concept—a Theatre of the Mind in two acts. Imaginative songs are mini-movies inspired by actual experiences and rendered into animated audio art.
Spirit Hustler will perform on June 24 at Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley, California. Doors at 8pm and show at 9pm. | GET TICKETS HERE
Other gigs include High Sierra Music Festival, July 1-3 (Quincy, CA), Sunshine of Love Festival, August 20 (Santa Cruz, CA) & Burning Man, Labor Day Weekend (Black Rock City, NV)
Originating with the epic space-rock opener “The Spirit of ’69,” the listener goes on a hero’s journey while “Circlin’ the Sun.” The hero encounters the enchanting “Angels of Summertime,” makes a “Devil Deal” with a succubus at Burning Man, and wanders the high desert via “Mine is a Gypsy Soul” before ultimately reckoning with the “Spirit of the Beast.”
“Wow, this is a masterpiece! Perfect, honest, unaffected psychedelic folk-rock vocals and the lyrics to match. A real modern San Francisco album.” Luther Dickinson (North Mississippi Allstars, Black Crowes)
Listen to the album on your favorite streaming platform.
1) The Spirit of ’69 - Watch the incredible video!
2) Gratitude Raga
3) Circlin’ the Sun - Listen to the latest single
4) Angels of Summertime
5) Devil Deal (feat. Jetta Cole)
6) Hard-Fought Magic
7) Honey Moon (feat. James Nash)
8) WhiteOut (Jimmy Leslie solo acoustic)
9) Mine is a Gypsy Soul (feat. Jetta Cole and Jason Crosby)
10) Spirit of the Beast
Jimmy Leslie is the writer and star of Spirit Hustler’s sonic cinema. A fixture on the Bay Area music scene, Leslie’s eclectic resume is insightful. He is internationally respected as the Frets Editor at Guitar Player, and the two instrumentals on Spirit Hustler showcase his “freehand” percussive fingerstyle. He uses Spirit Hustler examples to school readers on his highly original approach to Writing and Recording Acoustic Rock in the magazine’s June, July, and August issues.
He’s interviewed everyone from Carlos Santana to Jack White, and coordinated GP Presents events ranging from Paco de Lucia to Buddy Guy. Jimmy has shared stages with Tab Benoit, Luther Dickinson, Sonny Landreth, and Devon Allman. Leslie co-founded the Star City and Guitarfish Music Festivals and authored the eco-musical Guitarfish Adventures. Leslie’s solo records Surfin’ the Swamp and Dance Until Forever featuring players from Galactic and the Honey Island Swamp Band, respectively.
Spirit Hustler album cameos include strings by Jason Crosby (Jackson Browne), mandolin by James Nash (The Waybacks), guitar from Eric McFadden (P-Funk), keyboards by Alex Jordan (Midnight North), and backing vocals and acoustic guitar courtesy of champion Christie Lenée. Tahoe diva Jetta Cole delivers a Grammy-worthy vocal on “Gypsy Soul” and plays the she-demon to perfection on “Devil Deal.” The core band’s beating heart is drummer Jeremy Hoenig (Melvin Seals & the JGB). Steven La Bella provides funky, melodic bass while slide guitar ace Jules Leyhe provides laser lead lines that compliment Leslie’s open-tuned acoustic in an unexplored yet hauntingly familiar fashion.
Spirit Hustler was recorded at Lucky Recording in Brisbane, CA, where the Go Go’s recently cut “Club Zero.” Producer Mikel Ross has worked extensively with Corrosion of Conformity. Butch Vig disciple Travis Kasperbauer engineered and mixed. Grammy-winner Jake Eckert and Jeff Watkins mastered the album, and both are New Orleans Suspects. The artwork comes courtesy of Alan Forbes (Black Crowes). Considering all talents, Leslie adopted the moniker Spirit Hustler, emerging from the pandemic era like a butterfly from a cocoon.
“Leyhe cuts the best blues-slide licks since Derek Trucks, maybe even Duane Allman.” —Premier Guitar
“Oh yeah, I dig this. Tasty A.F. I really love it.” —Devon Allman
“Totally dig it! Epic and trippy with tons of cool sounds that make the stories speak. Love the slide work, very lyrical. ‘Angels of Summertime’ kept playing in my head for days. I liked the power in sections too.” —Sonny Landreth (John Hiatt, Dr. John, Eric Clapton)
Sweetwater Music Hall Release Celebration on June 24 featuring Pamela Parker & James Nash
Spirit Hustler represents a modern perspective on classic Bay Area rock, and Jimmy Leslie embodies the imaginative essence of artists such as Michael Hedges, Santana, and the Grateful Dead. Bob Weir is an owner at the Sweetwater Music Hall, where Leslie has history. He was onstage with Shana Morrison (Van’s daughter) on the very last night at the original Sweetwater location. He debuted the full Spirit Hustler show at the new location almost exactly a decade later, and the group is back to celebrate the release of the debut album, now available on all digital platforms as well as on CD and heavyweight vinyl.