Sirius XM's LSD Tour brings King Leg, Dwight Yoakam, Lucinda Williams and Steve Earle to Bank of New Hampshire PavilionBy CHRIS BIERI
Special to the Union Leaer June 13. 2018 2:05PM
Bryan Joyce was content to move on with his life.
He’d applied to medical school, about to abandon his dreams of a music career for a job as a pediatrician or operating a family practice.
But in a sort of superhero changeover, Joyce became King Leg, and with the help of his mentor, country legend Dwight Yoakam, his career has taken off.
“I’d applied to med school and didn’t get in,” Leg said. “I took a job and had a lot of free time to think about what I was going to do.”
He was playing with some guys from Nashville, while contemplating going into teaching. But he figured he should keep his stage life and classroom work separate.
“I wanted to have a ... stage name,” Joyce said. “I was thinking of going into teaching and didn’t want the kids to know about the band.”
That’s where the cockroach comes in.
“My wife had used (the name King Leg) in the past for a cockroach that was under our couch one time. It was shortly after I got married. She called me and said, ‘You’ve got to come home, King Leg is under the couch.’ There he was, the biggest shiniest cockroach I’d ever seen with really majestic legs,” he said. “I remembered that name. I always wanted to incorporate dancing and leg movement into the stage show.”
Leg joins Sirius XM’s LSD Tour, along with Yoakam, Lucinda Williams and Steve Earle & the Dukes, as it makes a stop at the Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion in Gilford Saturday night.
“I’m just looking forward to getting out there and being around them and doing these shows and being part of this legendary lineup,” Leg said. “It’s really a great rock ‘n’ roll package.”
Leg’s sound, like that of his tour mates Williams and Earle, is a union of early rock and country. But unlike the gritty deliveries of his counterparts, Leg’s wailing vocal style has drawn comparisons to Roy Orbison, pairing it with 1960s vintage tones and arrangements.
“Other than the Beatles and Elvis, I really went through a phase listening to a lot of the Moody Blues and Pink Floyd,” Leg said. “The first album I had growing up was this Turtles record. Those songs have really stuck with me, (and) the ‘60s LA Wrecking Crew sound that came from here at that time. I eventually got into everything from Neil Young to AC/DC and Radiohead and soaked it all in.”
It wasn’t until he started working at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium that Leg began to get more into country music, incorporating it into his own music.
“I was avoiding country growing up,” Leg said. “I wasn’t aware of ... the connections between California country rock and the Bakersfield Sound. The Ryman opened up that world of country that helped connect me back to early Elvis and Webb Pierce.”
Yoakam served as co-producer on the debut album “Meet King Leg,” and helped develop both richness and energy on many of the tracks.
“When we were doing pre-production, he was hearing a lot of things I wasn’t expecting to hear,” Leg said. “I’m just coming up with these on acoustic guitar. With his ear and vision, he was really, really figuring out how to get these to explode. I didn’t have any idea on production. He really helped give them the dynamic.”
Yoakam was considered both a country trailblazer and throwback after the release of his debut “Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc.” in 1986. Since then, he’s sold 25 million records and developed a notable acting career, perhaps best known for his role in Billy Bob Thornton’s film “Sling Blade.”
Williams is regarded as one of the top modern Americana artists and songwriters. Her 1998 album “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road” earned her a Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Record.
Since his breakout album “Guitar Town,” released in 1986, Earle has covered nearly every speck of terrain in Americana music, recording rock, blues and bluegrass albums.