Lee Perreira says he’s “just a worker.”
Perreira puts his head down and goes to work, playing restaurants, bars and clubs around town, sharing his classic blues riffs and soulfully textured vocal styles.
But Perreira isn’t as simple as that. The Phoenix musician, who recently released the album What’s that Gotta Do with My Dreams?, has opened for and performed with Buddy Guy. He opened for James Bay, and has shared the night with acts like Foo Fighters, Gary Clark Jr., Train, The Fray, INXS and Journey. Perreira’s album is on rotation at more than 100 U.S. radio stations.
“I’m really happy with what I’ve done,” he says. ‘I’ve been working my butt off, too, to get even further. Buddy Guy was the coolest moment so far. I received a standing ovation and I got to play with him during his set.”
Perreira adds he kept his cool with Guy, saying he doesn’t get nervous. He compares it to running a marathon this time last year.
“I thought, ‘Holy crap. Those feet right there ran 26 miles,” Perreira says. “Stuff always hits me later.”
Music is a longtime passion for Perreira. He began playing guitar at age 12 as a preteen in Long Beach, California, and he found his voice at 17 as a “Nirvana/Pearl Jam kid” when he moved to the Valley. A regularly performing musician, he averages over 300 events per year nationally.
Perreira, 36, who attended Apollo High School in Glendale, appreciates fans who say they enjoy his blend of genres, but, he adds, people either love it or hate it.
“I was in my 20s playing for A&R guys and they said, ‘We don’t know what genre you are. We don’t know what to do with you.’
“I just embrace it. I think, over the years, I’ve been blessed enough to have a journey that has led me to be a singer-songwriter and a full-band rock ‘n’ roll frontman. I enjoy expressing both sides of it. I’m blessed I get to play with awesome musicians who push me to be better.”
He was also inspired by his time at Phoenix College, where he studied music. Perreira is returning to the school at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, January 23, for a concert/lecture in Sessions Recital Hall.
“I learned what it was like to be a professional,” he says about Phoenix College. “I reached out to the department chairman, Karl Schindler, and asked if I could speak.
“When I was a student there, I would go to so many performances. It provided an opportunity for me to see some cool, funky jazz fusion shows. They would take questions from students. I volunteered to do that. It changed my life 10 years ago. They rarely have singer-songwriters come back with success stories, let alone come back at all. They’re really excited.”
Schindler says he remembers Perreira even though he was a student about 10 years ago.
“He was older than the typical student. He had already been playing and performing. He came to Phoenix College because he wanted to become a technically better player. He was really great. He didn’t come in here like, ‘I know how to do stuff.’ He had a great attitude wanting to learn as much as could.
“As we’ve talked, he said he had such a transformative experience. He’s had a successful time of being a gigging musician, playing all over, since he left. Even though our college program was designed not necessarily for popular music and performing, he had success at that. We always like having people talk to students about how they’ve been successful. He looks at it as he’s giving back to PC.”
Perreira, whose goal is to be enshrined in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, is happy where he is for now. With 90 to 100 unrecorded songs, he enjoys playing original songs and covers. He’s hoping to release a handful of singles this year.
“It’s great for everybody,” he adds about playing covers. “I’m getting paid to get better and practice my craft. It’s opened me up a lot to why things are important.
“I learned a bunch of covers 10 years ago. Now I know 300 covers and 100-plus originals. I’ve learned from so many people. That’s my other goal – to be the best musician and songwriter I can be and take it as far as it can go.”
Lee Perreira Trio, The Rhythm Room, 1019 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix, rhythmroom.com, 8 p.m. Tuesday, January 8, $8 at the door.
Lee Perreira, Phoenix College, 1202 W. Thomas Road, Phoenix, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, January 23, to RSVP and for a list of other shows, visit leeperreira.com