Amos Lee made a triumphant return to Tucson on a sweltering night in the desert with an epic performance at the historic Fox Theatre. The acclaimed singer-songwriter came back to the city where he recorded his Mission Bell album and invited a number of his friends to join the show, including local heroes Calexico. The set ranged from solo showcases to arrangements for a dozen musicians, and featured highlights from Lee’s latest album, as well as some of the finest songs from his catalogue and a stunning version of Paul Simon’s “American Tune”.
While attending the University of South Carolina, Philadelphia-born Amos Lee was given an acoustic guitar by his stepfather. After graduating, Lee taught elementary school in his hometown before deciding to dedicate himself to music. A self-produced EP earned him a contract with Blue Note Records in 2003, as well as touring dates with Norah Jones. Following the release of his self-titled debut album, the singer-songwriter performed with such musical legends as Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, and Paul Simon. Lee — who collaborator Willie Nelson has called “an exceptional artist, unique to his generation” — saw his fourth album, Mission Bell, enter the Billboard charts at Number One.
The Fox Tucson Theatre opened in 1930 as Tucson’s premier venue for vaudeville and film. After four decades of operation, the theatre fell on tough times, eventually closing in 1974. For the next 26 years, the Fox was left empty, falling slowly into decay through vandalism and neglect. In 1999, the non-profit Fox Tucson Theatre Foundation was able to purchase the building and start the process of restoring the Fox to its former glory. After a six year revitalization project which included recreating original seat fabric, carpet pattern, and light fixtures, as well repairing the Fox’s unique Acoustone acoustic material — the Fox reopened its doors on New Years Eve, 2005. Since then, the theatre has become a go-to location for film and live events in Downtown Tucson, as well as the cornerstone of continuing efforts to rejuvenate the area.