Friday, September 27, 2013

NEAF '13 Feature Artists: Michelle Lewis

Myself, being a songwriter and musician of the "sad song" persuasion, Michelle Lewis is a breath of fresh air for me. She is an extremely positive and energizing person and that can be fully witnessed through her live performances. An artist who is just happy to fill the air with her music and do her best to make an impact on even just one person. I have to say, its nice to see some presence from the strong songwriter ladies at this year's fest (I mean, really, we do have enough plaid and beards to go around for a while). I can say that I am truly happy to catch her set and welcome her to the New England Americana family...check out what she had to say about our questions below:

1)      First and foremost, who are you, what do you do? That is, what band are you in or are you a solo artist, what have you guys been up to leading up to the festival, anything exciting we should all know about? 

ML: My name is Michelle Lewis and I'm a singer/songwriter from Boston. I have one full length album (This Time Around) and two EPs (Broken and the Paris EP) under my belt. I just recorded three new songs for my next full length release, and recently returned from playing shows in Budapest.

2)      New England Americana and the Fest firmly plant their roots and morals in “community”. The event is a culmination of a community of musicians and artists that is going on all year. What does that community mean to you?

ML: It's so refreshing to see artists caring about and promoting each other, rather than the usual "it's all about me" attitude. Noel and John take the time to get to know you, care about your needs, and are honestly enthusiastic about what each artist is bringing to the festival. And that camaraderie spreads throughout the whole festival, from artists playing on each other's songs to attending each other's sets, and it's a pretty great thing.

3)      Name a record that shaped you as a musician early on. What music initially made you want to sing, or pick up an instrument and make music?

ML: I think I really got struck by the albums in my dad's record collection around the age of 14. Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon and Garfunkel, You Don't Mess Around With Jim by Jim Croce and Sweet Baby James by James Taylor were all in heavy rotation. And then the wave of female singer/songwriters hit in the 90's (Jewel, Sarah McLachlan, Tori Amos) and it was all over, I knew I wanted to be one of them.

4)      What are you listening to now that you think folks should be aware of?

ML: I just downloaded the the Sarah Jarosz album, Build Me Up From Bones, and it's wonderful. And I recently became aware of these sisters from the Midwest, Lily & Madeleine, who are only 17 and are putting me to shame! They just have this amazing harmonization only sisters could have, and their sound is really lovely.

5)      Music  festivals, in general,  are fairly well known for surprise sit ins, improvisational jams and collaborations. If you could see any two of this year’s acts collaborate on stage at this year’s NEA Festival, who would you like to see?

ML: That's easy - myself and Eva Walsh :) This will be the first full set we have ever played together and I can't wait, she plays such beautiful fiddle.

6)      Why is creating music important to you? Why do you pick up your instrument and write songs? Why do you play that dive bar on a Thursday night? What keeps you going?
ML: Beauty and people. I have an intense need to make things around me beautiful. Whether it's a meal, a flower arrangement or a song, I want to make something beautiful for people to enjoy. When someone comes up to me after a performance to tell me how a certain song resonated with them, it makes me want to keep writing, singing and performing to bring joy to others, too.

Michelle can be found online at ALL outlets:
And be sure to check out her set (with another one of my favorite ladies, Eva Walsh, sitting in) on Sunday  at the Brattle Stage at 1:00 PM.

Oh yeah! And on top of that, Michelle has some great other shows coming up too..

Sunday, October 6
The Burren
247 Elm Street
Davis Square, Somerville
8 p.m., free 

Tuesday, November 5
Club Passim
47 Palmer Street
Harvard Square, Cambridge
8 p.m., $15
Opening for Grace Pettis.

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