Lee Penn Sky
It was a cold January day on a remote highway in Idaho. A young man stopped to help other travelers who were trapped in an overturned truck. As the man was working to rescue them, another car skidded off the road and struck him at highway speed. That man was Lee Penn Sky.
On that grey day, Lee almost lost his life and nearly lost his leg; what he did lose was his fear. Until this day, Lee had been a prolific songwriter but never stepped from behind the shelter of a band into the spotlight himself. The risk of stepping into the spotlight seemed to pale in comparison to nearly losing his life. Slowly as he healed he began writing new songs and to perform solo. Healing from his severe injuries gave Lee time to figure out who he was as a songwriter, time to hone his skills and style.
Lee plays folk-oriented songs that span the Americana range, and are rooted in his Michigan childhood and the high-plains desert of Idaho, where he now resides. He has an affinity for Texan songwriters like Robert Earl Keen, Steve Earle, Willie Nelson, and the late great Townes Van Zandt. While these artists inform Lee Penn Sky’s music, he doesn’t emulate his heroes. Poetic yet unadorned songwriting, his metaphorical lyrics have a way of cutting to the heart of a matter. His presentation is often compared to Colin Hay's solo work and has a unique, rootsy, direct and often melancholic style of conveying his lyrics, mixed with his rich baritone voice, lends to very intimate feeling preformances.
Lee Penn Sky has shared the stage with some amazing artists such as Glen Phillips from Toad the Wet Sprocket, Rhett Miller of Old 97’s, the Black Lillies, the Barefoot Movement, Tony Furtado, Allie Kral from Yonder Mountain String Band, and Dan Johnson. He has been billed with acts such as the Cowboy Junkies, Son Volt, the Old 97's, the Seldom Scene and many more. Lee has played at many festivals, fairs and showcases including being a two time songwriting finalist in the Susanne Millsaps performing songwriter showcase, a finalist in the T.R. Ritchie songwriting contest, playing at the Snowbird Mountain Music Festival, playing the Denver Post Underground Music Showcase, played the Tucson Folk Festival, the Spokane Fall Folk Festival, the Salt Lake Folk and Bluegrass Festival, been booked for the L.A. Americana Music Festival , played the Yellow Pine Harmonica and Music festival and appeared at the Treefort Music Festival. He has played a number of great concert series such as the Music from Stanley Series and Boise’s Alive after 5 series. He has been feature on several television shows such as the Park City TV show Soundtracks and Boise Song Talk.
Lee is currently in the process of recording a new album-Lean into the letter. This latest body of work chronicles the discovery of a letter from a relative- Jacov Nistel- that was believed to have perished in the Holocaust. Jacov in fact survived his ordeals, though the rest of his family was killed by the Nazis, and he immigrated to Israel. Lee and his family were able to locate Jacov’s sons and grandchildren and travel to Israel to unite with them. This letter and subsequent events inspired a collection of songs giving life to Jacov’s story of loss, defiance and rebuilding as well as Lee’s thoughts on the current political and religious tensions in the Holy Land.
Regarding Lee’s appearance at Treefort Music festival “As Lee and I talked, he invited me to catch his set, which featured a collection of songs inspired by finding some family letters of an unknown relative who had survived the Holocaust. Having never known of his extended family, Lee traveled to Israel, where he learned about his heritage. It was a special performance, moving on so many levels.” -Peter Dervin, No Depression, April 2, 2019.
Lee released 29 Left Down, a new 13 song cd in March of 2015 to much anticipation and immediate critical acclaim. Several of Lee’s songs from his debut album Prelude to Hindsight released in 2006, have been played on folk and alt-country radio shows throughout the United States and in Europe. His song "The Trees” was included on In Our Town: Songs for BOISE 150 in 2013.
Lee is an official endorser of G7th Capos, Seydel Harmonicas and is included in the Taylor Guitar Artist program.