Tag Archives: Jeffrey Lewis

Jeffrey and Jack Lewis, The Glass Bead Game

Chris’ mural is finally up! I got to help paint it and it was fun. While I was filing in greens and reds I remember thinking, why am i 29 years old and this is the first time I have worked on a mural?


Thanks so much to Chris Green for hosting this wonderful day in appreciation of comics, and for Brady and Rebecca File for bringing up Jeffrey Lewis. I have been a fan since I heard his album “the last time I did acid I went insane and other Favorites” back in 2001.  I played his songs on KSUA while I was a DJ there. It was  so nice of them to feel I was an appropriate opener. I played two “Damn you Damn you Damn you,” “Sometimes it all reminds you of a story” and “Dancing in the street” as well as old favorites “anthropic principle lullaby” “Homonculus Reductio Ad Absurdum” and Ileah even requested “William H Macy.” It was nice to get a request, though I hadn’t done that song in five or six years, I tried to remember it; I did an a cappella version and forgot the ending. Ah well.
I enjoyed Jeff’s set immensely and he played my request: “Broken Broken Heart.” In that song there is a line “thank you pain for teaching me, thanks but its been more than enough.” This line reminds me that every aspect of humanity/psychology is there for an evolutionary reason, those who felt what we know of as heartbreak” had an evolutionary advantage over those who didn’t. The concept is kinda buddhist, and just one of many amazingly clever lines in Jeff’s songs. He also played an old favorite “Back When I was Four.” He even played a song from his first album and nailed it, “The last time I did acid I went Insane,” with a very weird poem at the end, long and rambling , psychedelic and strange recited by his brother and him in unison. It was nice to hear “Seattle” and these other old tunes. Sometimes touring musicians don’t play songs from their early career, wanting only to promote the new material. He played one Crass song as a request “punk is dead” and one that was maybe by Jack Lewis (I assumed as he sang the lead) about a band of teenagers on tour getting into fights, drinking too much and trashing hotel rooms.

I found it especially inspirational to see pages of his notebooks that included Rom, robot knight. The character has been an obsession for Jeffrey, and he has traditionally started each notebook over the years with a drawing of him. He redrew pages of Watchmen with Rom replacing characters and also pages of Daniel Clowes “Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron.” Sometimes Jeff and Rom were teammates, other times mortal enemies, with Jeff blaming Rom for his comics addiction, and cursing him to a life of loneliness. Jeff is seen throwing the robot knight out of a helicopter, and as he falls he shouts “Jesus Fucking Christ!”

Jeff and I also discussed some aspects of the phenomenon of traveling book presenting. He commented that there was a certain justice in traveling with books, as they inevitably get damaged and this forces the performer to continually create new material. It was great to get to see him play in my home town.

For more info on Jeff Lewis, thejeffreylewissite.com
For more info on WallofBalloons and Chris Green http://www.wallofballoons.com/boglog/


On sunday I got to catch “The Glass Bead Game” a band that played in Fairbanks at the Howling Dog back in 1972 and 1973. Riff Rafson plays bass, he and I would talk music and economics back when I was friends with his daughter. Pat Fitzgerald plays drums, and he was the sound engineer for the first and third Paper Scissors albums. Bill Black was playing Harmonica and he was my 2nd grade teacher. He always just nods at me and politely says hello, even if he’s in the audience to one of my weird shows at CCH.


Glass Bead game were a very fun 9 piece band playing blues and 70s covers. Their horn section really was the icing on the cake, with harmonica, and two flute players, Al green on sax would sometimes play two trumpets, providing a delightful chorus effect, or would play a midi synthesizer breath controller. It was pure prog! Phil on keyboards always added something pleasant to the song, but I’m a sucker for blues piano and b3 organs. Donna on flutes sounded amazing, etherial, psychedelic and joyful. Props to Josh Bennet doing sound for mixing all those instruments live into something coherent.

For more info on Glass Bead Game:

newsminer.com/pages/full_story/push?blog-entry–Just+like+in+the+days+of+old-+Glass+Bead+Game+provides+rich+sound &id=19139969&instance=blogs_editors_desk

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Jeffrey Lewis “A Turn in the Dream Songs.” The Avery Wolves “Wreckin with the Wolves.”

As Jeffrey is coming to Fairbanks soon and I have been listening to his album constantly, I thought I’d post a review. More drawings are coming soon. Thank you for the comments and in advance for coming to see me play live!

Upcoming shows

June 15th at College Coffeehouse– 8pm free, with Sabe, Travis and Luke.

June 25th at the Fairbanks downtown market with Sabe and Luke. (free)

and June 30th opening for Jeffrey Lewis at Wall of Balloons. (donations may be accepted, but I think that it is free- this is more like a comic convention/celebration than a rock show)

more info at http://www.wallofbaloons.com, also appearing Christopher Green and Jamie Smith.

July 4th hosting Open mic at the Marlin. (free)

Jeffrey Lewis (New York City)
A Turn in the Dream Songs (2011)
Rough Trade
Key song “How Can it be?” Cult Boyfriend”
Recorded at Analogue Catalogue, Manchester UK.
Engineer ?
Producer ?

Packed full with brilliant observations, the title comes from the song “To Go and Return” in which Jeff makes the charmingly insightful observation that our lives are wishes come true from previous generations, which took many years to reach the star who would grant it, and then many years to come back.
Jeff is confiding in us his secrets and imparting us with wisdom. Any adventurous spirit will find many lines that resonate, suc has this one: “I’ve got too much confidence to only do things that make sense” in Water Leaking Water Moving.
In “When You’re By Yourself”- he describes perfectly the experience of being alone at a restaurant, how you have to take your pack with you when you go to the bathroom, how you fear that the waitress will think you’re done with your food before and waste some of your precious calories! Songs like this one remind me of my travels and unique experiences. “How can Jeff have had the same thought?”
Throughout the album are guest musicians which lend their talents. “To Go and Return” has some saxophone noodling, and mandolin by Franic Rozycki. “Reaching ” has  female vocals,  and “How Can it Be” has members of Dr. Dog singing back up vocals. That song is the shortest and catchiest song on here, it seems like a part two to a previous song, “Broken Broken Heart.”

“So What If I Couldn’t Take It” has numerous laugh out loud moments. Including a scene where homeless critics rate Jeffrey’s suicide attempt, and disappointingly lower their scores when they see that he survived. He also makes a jibe at Pitchfork, the music criticism site.
The best of these songs may be “Time Trades.” This is the kind of song that may make you cry, or upon listening instantly call up an old friend or family member you love and insist they “listen to this song right now! “That’s what I did for my dad.

Compare solos in “Cult Boyfriend”  or the elaborate fingerpicking on any of these tracks to his earlier work and you’ll see how far Jeff has come. His voice may take some getting used to, but we got used to Alec Ounsworth, and Bob Dylan.  Any fan of They might be Giants, Todd Snyder, Kimya Dawson, or Jeff’s own inspiration The Fuggs, would do well to give this, his gentlest and most colorful album a listen.

Avery Wolves (Fairbanks, Ak)
Wreckin With the Wolves.
Recorded at Northern Lights Mortuary (not the name of a studio, an actual mortuary… don’t ask) with Nathan as the Engineer.
Mixed by Nick Forkel
Nathan Harris – Upright Bass/ Vocals
Jason Dahlke – Drums
David Keller – Guitar
Fairbanks’ Avery Wolves  released their six song EP this spring and it doesn’t disappoint. The vintage art from Shawn Tickenson is fun and fits the music well.
“Harlot of the Waning Moon” features fantastic back up vocals. The bass is up front and center in these recordings, as it should be in psychobilly.
“Lady Luck” has a perky bounce to it and the morbid joke, “its all fun and games until  somebody dies.” These recordings are polished and clean. There seems to be no clipping and the guitars distortion is turned down. You might expect more chaotic punk madness if you’ve seen the live show.  Live, the solos are longer, the tempos are faster, and you get to watch Nathan’s goofy stage antics, climbing on his bass, playing it with his feet, tossing it around like a swing dance partner, etc. These songs aren’t contributing much new to the genre, but they are accessible,  squeaky clean and all are catchy enough to make you sing along. To some, this kind of music is vintage and nostalgic, to a new generation, it means something completely different.
I asked Nathan who writes the songs. He said he writes about 40% of the lyrics, and Jason writes the other 60%. I asked what non music elements influence his songwriting and he said “violence!”


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