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March 21, 2020

My Dear Friends and Musical Family, I’m glad I waited to send this: I was going to announce months packed with gigs — My busiest year of performing yet, including great gigs in the northeast US, the Netherlands and France with Lovestruck Balladeers, a solo tour in the UK and Germany, and a Corn Potato String Band tour in Virginia, Maryland, and North Carolina — and then the unthinkable happened. (That reminds me of a joke: How do you think the unthinkable? Scroll to the end for the punchline…) First of all, I hope you are all staying safe and well during these strange times. I have my health and I have my house, but as you can imagine, my work is all gone. It will be hard for me to recoup the money I spent on plane tickets, not to mention the costs of making my new album, but I am doing the best I can with online lessons and personalized performances. If you or someone you know is interested, please contact me directly. If you’d like to order…

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I Was on American Idol

February 7, 2020

or America’s Got Talent, whatever. And I wasn’t actually on the show but I did audition. Scroll all the way to the bottom for that story. It’s 100 percent true.   Now, I’ve got quite a newsletter for you this time. Lots of fun links to look at, including audio, new videos, and news articles. Re-statement of tour dates. Book report. Update on the dental work… I’ll start with that, because I know you’re just dying to hear about it.   DENTAL WORK UPDATE I’m not really going to go into specifics on this but I got the rest of my dental work done a couple weeks ago and it’s left me with a lingering sensitivity in part of my mouth. Every time I feel that sensitivity I take it as a reminder to be kind to everyone you meet, since you never know what inner struggles other people are dealing with.   Saving the videos and other links for last, here are the   TOUR DATES   LOVESTRUCK BALLADEERS GIGS IN NY: 2/14 – Saratoga Springs, NY – Caffe Lena 2/15-16…

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[Aaron Jonah Lewis] 2020 Vision = Looking Niiiiiiiiiice

January 3, 2020

I got some surprise dental work done today. As I listened to the dentist’s drill whine and grind layers of molar away, smelling the dentist (he smelled good) and enjoying the simultaneous feelings of cradle-comfort in that chair and discomfort from keeping my mouth so open for so long, I had to suppress a giggle a few times. I giggled for the situation (Princess Bride on the TV — “My name is Inigo Montoya…”) and I giggled for my ability to handle it. I feel better equipped than ever for any challenge that comes my way, and I’m ready to have a good time, too.   Welcome to 2020 AJL World my friends. Things are not suddenly different, just gradually getting better all the time. This is the busiest January I’ve had in a long time and I’m going to tell you all about it. In this email you can read about   – Upcoming Gigs – Radio Appearances – New Videos – Mozart of the Banjo update   UPCOMING GIGS Yes, I’ve been rehearsing for not one but TWO…

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Mozart of the Banjo is HERE

November 12, 2019

I am giddy with excitement to share this news with you today — After nearly a year of preparation — researching, practicing, coordinating, rehearsing, recording, mixing, mastering, designing, and more (ENORMOUS thanks to everyone who helped me make this happen!) — My first solo album of classic fingerstyle banjo music is now available HERE!! This album consists exclusively of pieces by the great English banjo composer Joe Morley, an early 20th-century virtuoso and prolific composer whose works have appealed to me since I first encountered them. The CD also comes with extensive liner notes, including contributions from the Smithsonian’s Greg Adams, fellow musician Jerron Paxton, and the man who wrote THE book on Klezmer, Hank Sapoznik, all personal heroes of mine. Many of the pieces on this album have never before been recorded. It is a great honor for my album to be included in the catalog of Tiki Parlour Recordings, a label I’ve admired for many years. Every single record they’ve released is an absolute gem and an inspiration. They put together this beautiful trailer video for the album…

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If Your House Was On Fire

September 21, 2019

Yesterday was the day of global climate action. I participated in spirit from home but I am 100% with the strikers and protesters. If your house was on fire, you would show up and call for a solution, wouldn’t you? I’ve been calling for action, thinking about and changing my own behavior and talking with everyone around me for such a long time, and I’m hopeful that it’s not too late for positive action to keep our planet habitable.   My neighborhood, from where I write to you now, has some of the worst air quality in the country, and construction is about to begin on a new bridge to Canada, which will only increase traffic in the area. Nestle is pulling 400 gallons of water from Michigan aquifers PER MINUTE and paying next to nothing for the privilege (#boycottNestle, for so many reasons… That’s Ice Mountain in water bottle form. Actually, just boycott disposable water bottles altogether, please. You know they are not going to be recycled…) With all this in mind, we still have a lot to celebrate…

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Burnt Brown Sugar Ice Cream

June 8, 2019

I’m writing to you from an AirBnB in Denver where 27 other people are staying. I’m in a room with six other people and it’s not a big room. Bunk beds, body odor, close quarters, and lots of rules, including no music playing, ever.   But! Earlier today I played on a big stage for thousands of people at Swallow Hill Brewgrass with Mark Lavengood Band and it was a blast! (Visit my Instagram page for a photo…) First ice cream of the season was pure delight… They really know how to do it around here. I hope to come back to Colorado again soon…   And now, instead of playing my banjo and practicing for my big solo show at the Ark next week I am writing to you, so it all works out all right.   I have just a few key points in this email for you:  – Saturday, June 15, Square Dance + Reggae Concert at Ant Hall in Hamtramck!  – Sunday, June 16, My Solo Debut at The Ark in Ann Arbor! Get tickets here!…

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Tulip Time

May 12, 2019

Or, as they say, “April showers bring May showers…” I spent a few days last week in Holland, Michigan, taking in the cultural traditions of this Dutch-American town I’d never visited before and busking in the sunshine during the annual Tulip Time festival with my powerhouse pal Grace Van’t Hof (banjo/uke/vocals with Sinner Friends + art/design). It’s a beautiful thing to see people celebrating a shared sense of connection and identity in any kind of positive way, and this was a fine example of that. I saw a champion Town Crier, “Dutch” dancing (which may have been invented in the New World but that’s ok), lots of people in Dutch costume and I tasted some Dutch delicacies (Banket for the win). My question is, how do we take that feeling of togetherness and bring it into a city of many different cultures and traditions coexisting side by side? Read on… Happy Springtime Everybody! In this email I will share some recent links to interviews I’ve done, catch you up on what I’ve been doing the last couple months, tell you…

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Frost On My Moustache

February 25, 2019

I made it back from the frozen North and I have stories to tell! I also have upcoming gigs and other fun items to share with you. In this email you will find — Tour Highlights — Upcoming Gigs — Picky Fingers Podcast Feature Teaser — CBC Radio Interview — Book Report — New Videos TOUR HIGHLIGHTS So I went ahead and posted my tour journal from the Yukon trip on my website as a separate post. You can read all about it and see some photos here. I can’t remember anything that happened before the tour, it was such an amazing trip. The last time I went to the trouble of posting a tour journal was five years ago when I went to India with the earliest lineup of Corn Potato String Band. That tour journal can be found here, in case you missed it. UPCOMING GIGS I’ve been doing so many various things lately but I am focusing more on solo work these days, so I have a few solo shows coming up, some shows and recording sessions…

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Yukon Tour Journal, February 2019, or, How Many Banjos Can You Fly to the Yukon?

February 25, 2019

The short answer is three, plus a fiddle and a pile of CDs, a few instrument stands, change of clothes, toothbrush, etc. But let’s go back to what this was all about and how it came to be: Some time last fall I got a phone call from Tim Osmond, director of Home Routes, the Canadian nonprofit organization that sends musicians into rural communities all over Canada throughout the winter time to provide live music in the form of house concerts in places where live music wouldn’t otherwise be commonly found. The energy and commitment of the hundreds of volunteers who make this all work is so inspiring. (Ben and I did our first Home Routes tour in Manitoba two years ago and got to know Tim when we played at his house in Winnipeg at the end of the tour.) Our conversation went something like this: Tim: Hey Aaron, are you and Ben free in February? AJL: Let me check… (inspects watchless wrist) Yeah, I think so. What’s up? Tim: Do you guys want to do a Home Routes…

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Lilikoi

December 4, 2018

Aloha, I got back from the remote Hawaiian island of Kauai a few days ago (with a truly excellent stop over in Toronto on my way home – see previous post from April, 2017, “I Heart Canada”) and when I stepped outside from the train from the airport in Toronto and breathed in that cool winter air I felt like I was home again. So I’m finally back for more than a day or two and I’ll catch you up on everything: – Highlights from Kauai – Highlights from Banjo Gathering – Highlights from Lovestruck Balladeers Tour – New Videos – Upcoming Stuff – Book Report HIGHLIGHTS FROM KAUAI So, Kauai. It’s an interesting place. In terms of the landscape and plant life it was sort of an Alice in Wonderland experience for me. Dramatically beautiful views everywhere you look, avocado, mango, citrus, passionfruit (“lilikoi” in Hawaiian), coconut, papaya, and even more kinds of fruit trees growing everywhere, no predators or fearsome creatures anywhere unless you count the ubiquitous roosters. (I heard about these giant venomous centipedes but luckily never…

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