Saturday, September 23, 2006

Zoe Lewis - A must see

Last night we saw Zoe Lewis in concert at Swallow Hill. What a pleasant surprise. I knew nothing of her music, but her bio stated "a worldbeat vaudeville extravaganza of clever songwriting." I couldn't pass that up.

This had to be one of the most entertaining shows that I've seen in a long time. Not only was the music great, Zoey is an extremely animated performer, who's stories are as entertaining as the music. She was also accompanied by Arthur Lee who is an amazing accompanist and good drummer (unfortunately I don't know her name).

A few things that stood out. Her songs were extremely creative. One song about spreading someone's ashes in the bay has the hook (no pun intended) "help me catch a fish, help me catch a fish, Geraldine." Another about people who play characters in Disneyland, "the day Show White used the F word." She also does one called Tadpole Puddle, that you'll need to hear to appreciate. Her lyrical density was very high (a lot of words in line, close together), yet she delivered each word clearly. Behind her lyrics she had and excellent groove going on, such that we'd probably be dancing even if we couldn't understand the lyrics. She also played a variety of instruments (guitar, piano, harmonica, ukulele, spoons...) along with vocal trumpet. Adding Arthur Lee and the drummer, there was no way you could get bored. On top of all that a witty and somewhat eccentric personality, you get great evening.

From a songwriting perspective, I was very inspired in how she turned events in her life into such interesting songs. You could tell that she really thought about each experience and there was nothing phony in her songs. I've been struggling over one song for the last few days and realized that I drifted away from the personal meaning in order to make "a better song." Last night I saw the value in sticking to the personal connection. I also got inspired in how upbeat her songs were. I've started a number of humorous songs, but always put them aside for my deeper, more serious ones. In her music, I was reminded of the value that music has just makes you smile.

Songwriters should definitely check her out!


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