By Steve Weinstein
By Bryan Bierman
By Lindsey Rhoades
By Chaz Kangas
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Jena Ardell
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Katherine Turman
"The challenge is to do it right but do it quickly. We only get one rehearsal, which is the sound check on the day of the show, but that's no excuse for doing it half-assed," Flatt says. "One of the reasons I got into this line of work is that I got fed up with seeing my heroes sing with pickup bands who seemed lost or uninterested."
Saturday night's headliner, Lonnie Lester, has played Albany and Buffalo, but never made it to New York City. Lester, a native of Gary, Indiana, has been a singer since 1959 when he opened for The Drifters. He'll turn 77 in April and stays busy singing at restaurants, corporate functions, and retired living communities near his home in Indianapolis. "I didn't live like the big boys, but it was a job," Lester says.
For Dig Deeper's 51st show, Lewis and Robinson have compiled a set list of tracks that Lester recorded on the small Gary-based label Nu-Tone. Although songs such as "So This is Love" and "You Choose" sound like they should have been hits in their day, Lester's singles never got traction. Still, they're the kind of songs that Dig Deeper's audience leaves a show treasuring. Devotees of this soul revival keep returning because they've come to trust DJ Honky and Mr. Robinson to deliver a quality show, no matter how unfamiliar they are with the featured act.
"I can't do splits anymore, but I can entertain the crowd, and if I do a split they're going to need to have some kind of ambulance near the stage," Lester says. "My voice is still pretty strong; I'm never going to sound like I did anymore, but you'll know it's me."
Lonnie Lester performs at Dig Deeper at Littlefield on Saturday, March 8. $15, littlefieldnyc.com