Jeffrey Lewis is one of those “your favourite artist’s favourite artist” artists. See him live at The Cap this Saturday playing with B. A. Johnston and The Burning Hell.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, because it’s something that comes up in my mind often and has, on more than one occasion, popped up in something I wrote.
As long as I live, I will always be inspired to attended shows by out-of-town performers I’ve never heard of whenever possible, because we never truly know who it is we’re seeing on stage. Sometimes we as music fans have the benefit of someone else telling us, “You’ve got to go see ___ because they’re ____.” Performer X may have a connection to performer Y and sometimes that’s all it takes to draw an audience full of curious music lovers. I’ve been there. I hope to be there again. That’s part of the fun.
But we don’t always act when we should, for any number of reasons. And there are countless stories of missed opportunities. We all have a few. Shows we should have attended but didn’t for whatever reason. One of my favourites involves Juno Award nominee Andy Shauf. Back when Shauf was headlining Shivering Songs years ago, I can remember the whole community buzzing with excitement leading up to the show. And his performance was, of course, incredible, even though some people complained they couldn’t understand his lyrics on account of his low-tone delivery. At some point after the festival, co-organizer Zach Atkinson told me he was approached a year or two earlier to book Shauf for a midweek show at The Capital and turned the opportunity down because he wasn’t familiar with him. He had yet to hear his name or his music.
Which brings me to today. Or more accurately, this week. This weekend to be exact.
As part of Shivering Songs’ spring lineup, B.A, Johnston, The Burning Hell and Jeffrey Lewis are playing The Cap this Saturday. If I’m being completely honest, I read this three-artist lineup and thought, “B.A. and The Burning Hell. What a combo.” Lewis didn’t register. Then I got a message from a friend that read, “Hey Matt. I don’t think Fredericton knows that Jeffrey Lewis is a pretty big deal. He’s one of the biggest figures in the early aught anti-folk movement. To me, it’s bananas he’s coming to town.” This piqued my interest, obviously. Who the hell is Jeffrey Lewis? Let’s learn together, shall we?
Jeffrey Lewis was hails from New York City’s Lower East Side. He is a musician, a writer and a comic artist. He holds a degree in Literature and wrote his thesis on the graphic novel, The Watchmen. He honed his songwriter chops at open mics in Austin and NYC and along with artists like The Moldy Peaches and Diane Cluck, is known for his involvement in the anti-folk movement during the late 90s and into the 2000s. Anti-folk is largely characterised by its downbeat, off-kilter, often self-deprecating lyrics that stand in contrast to the folk movement of the 1960s. He has released acclaimed albums on Rough Trade and K Records and supported Steven Malkmus and the Jicks on their European tour in 2008. He has also played shows or toured with Frank Black, Thurston Moore, The Mountain Goats, Dr. Dog and many others.
To up it another way, Lewis is your favourite artist’s favourite artist.
“Hands down my favorite contemporary songwriter” – Ben Gibbard (Death Cab For Cutie)
“Jeffrey is the best pure songwriter I know of” – David Berman (Silver Jews)
“A second. That’s all he needs to dazzle.” – Les Inrockuptibles
Lewis’ writings and graphics have been published in the New York Times, The Guardian and on The History Channel, and he has published more than twenty of his own comics. By any measure, Lewis is an incredible artist.
This weekend’s show will no doubt be one of the books. If you can get there, get there. Fredericton audiences are already familiar with B. A. Johnston and Mathias Kom (The Burning Hell). Both of these performers have, through years of performing and touring our neck of the woods, established admirable followings of their own. Johnston, with his karaoke style singer songwriter delivery and over the top onstage persona, is a one-person festival in his own rite. He’s an opening act, a side-stage performer and a headlining act all on his own. The same could be said for Kom, whose incredible wit and knack for blending humour and sadness (or is that finding humour in sadness?), has helped he and his band build an international following. Comfortable on any stage, any size, anywhere, Johnston and Kom never disappoint. Now, add our new friend Jeffrey Lewis to the mix and you’ve got a lineup that could hold its own anywhere.
I’ll say it again: If you can go to this show, go to this show. I’m not offering a money back guarantee, but am confident you’ll get your $15 worth at the very least.