LeRoy Bell back on Whidbey Jan. 19

Popular performer at festivals takes to WICA stage

LeRoy Bell is back on Whidbey Island.

The rocking singer-songwriter from Seattle, who had people dancing among hay stacks and in the streets at two Whidbey festivals last year, will perform at Whidbey Island Center for the Arts on Jan. 19.

Bell is an energetic, charismatic performer who seems to rain joy down from the stage.

At the July Bluesberry Festival in Freeland, Bell popped down from the stage and serenaded listeners seated on rows of haystacks. At the Oak Harbor Music Festival over Labor Day, his rousing sets got the crowd clapping and stomping.

He also had a following when he played gigs at Mukilteo Coffee.

“For me, I was excited to book LeRoy based on pure merit,” said Deana Duncan, WICA artistic director. “The Whidbey Island connection was just a bonus.”

Bringing in “an American singer songwriter of such talent,” Duncan said, augments WICA’s well-known World Music Series.

At some shows, Bell plays with his band known as “his only friends.”

Bell is also an accomplished songwriter.

With friend Casey James, the duo composed songs that were hits for other artists —- most notably two charting hit singles for Elton John. The O’Jays, The Temptations, Teddy Pendergrass and Rita Marley have also performed Bell’s songs.

He’s also performed with a wide variety of musicians, including B.B. King, Etta James, Van Morrison, Erykah Badu, Keb Mo and Carlos Santana.

Bell has released various albums including his debut solo EP “Spending Time” (on his own label Martez Music Group) followed by “Two Sides to Every Story” in 2006, “A Change Is Coming” in 2008 and “Traces” in 2010.

In 2011, he was part of a project United in Song, affiliated with USA for Africa to bring the best in World Music to celebrate peace and unity.

LeRoy Bell performs 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 19, at Whidbey Island Center for the Arts. Adult tickets, $22; seniors, $20; and youth, $18. Zech Hall Piano Bar opens one hour prior to the performance.

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