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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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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September 12, 2018

During the layover in Iceland on my way home from UK tour I was very excited to visit the duty-free shop and buy lots of Icelandic licorice (or liquorice, as it is sometimes written). As I sat at the gate happily munching away I recalled how complete disgusted I was by the stuff when I was a child, and reflected on how it’s now one of my favorite candies. Did the change happen suddenly or gradually? It doesn’t matter. The point is, people change, tastes change, you change, sometimes suddenly and sometimes so slowly you don’t notice it’s happening until years after it’s happened. I’m in a bit of a hurry today as I’ve only been home a couple days and I’m leaving again tomorrow so this may be a relatively short one. But there are some fun surprises in store for you– – Upcoming Tour Dates – Highlights from UK Tour – New Corn Potato Music Videos! – Book Report UPCOMING TOUR DATES with Corn Potato Duo (Lewis/McCaw) Sep 13 – Binghamton, NY – House Concert Sep 14 –…

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[Aaron Jonah Lewis] …Is Sexy

July 8, 2018

I was just driving home from a gig in Detroit and thinking I’d like to see a bumper sticker that says SAFE DRIVING IS SEXY. (Drivers in Detroit are insane.) And then I started thinking what other boring, obvious things could be said to be sexy on a bumper sticker — KINDNESS IS SEXY, GOOD DENTAL HYGIENE IS SEXY, REDUCING YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT IS SEXY, RESPECT IS SEXY — and then I start getting into what wouldn’t work at all — JUSTICE IS SEXY, MASHED POTATOES IS SEXY, KITTENS IS SEXY, FRIENDSHIP IS SEXY — and the borderline misogynistic — WASHING THE DISHES IS SEXY, LOOKING GOOD IS SEXY — although those aren’t really sex-specific, and, well, what can I say, I’m sorry. I just thought of this and maybe it made you smile. Maybe you have your own ridiculous ideas for …IS SEXY bumper stickers. If you do, please send them my way. And that’s how I’m starting this month’s post. I promise to ramble further at the end of this message with some more serious thoughts (or funnier,…

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Scott Joplin Memorial Bench Bookmark

June 8, 2018

Almost two weeks ago I subbed in on plectrum banjo with a world-class 13-piece Ragtime ensemble called the River Rasin Ragtime Revue. It was an honor and a privilege to play some pure, beautiful, exquisite and simply fun Ragtime music with this group.  Probably the least important, but also the only material thing I took away from the experience was a bookmark commemorating the dedication of the Scott Joplin Memorial Bench in St. Michael’s Cemetery, East Elmhurst, NY. This bench is significant because Scott Joplin, who most of you have heard of as the King of Ragtime, was buried in an unmarked grave and no monument was erected in his honor until now. That would be like if Elvis had been buried in an unmarked grave and no one did anything about it until fifty years from now.   In some ways that’s what I’m all about. Drawing attention to the treasures of our cultural past, buried just below the surface without any markers to draw attention. On the other hand, the steamroller of culture is always moving forward and…

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