I went out to see an old music aquaintance of mine, Lewi Longmire, play at the Laurelthirst Public House this Tuesday after Jackstraw. This bar sits on the north end of Laurelhurst Park and is known for featuring a great mix of acoustic Americana and bluegrass. Colin Meloy of the Decemberists, played some of his first Portland gigs here, and Portland music luminaries like Laura Veirs and Casey Neill often pop in to play cameo shows.
I first met Lewi when he was working for Music Millenium, one of those rare gem’s of a music store that promotes local and upcoming musicians with in-store performances. Lewi has always had a name around town playing is own music, but has also built a great reputation as a multi-instrumentalist and has been featured on many albums by national acts like Minus 5 and Tara Jane O’Neil, as well as playing as a side man in the above mentioned Casey Neill’s band (The Norway Rats), as well as with James Low and Caleb Klauder.
Tuesday at Laurelthirst, Lewi was playing with his buddy Bingo, who was visiting from Joshua Tree. The way they meshed was magical, and both traded songs and leads like only old music friends can. Lewi’s voice is classic Americana and he can carry a slow and sad tune (see “San Ysidro”) just as well as his more prolific and upbeat numbers like “Disappear,” both of which you can get your hands on through CDBaby.com on his most recent album, “Fire ‘Neath the Still.”
And speaking of this album, I’m intrigued by the cover. It looks like a shot from the Crooked River in Central Oregon, or maybe the John Day? If his love for rivers and the outdoors says anything about the tribe that Lewi attracts, I know you guys would love him in Bend.
And speaking of, the Laurelthirst in general seems to be a gathering place for these type of folk. Though I moved here to take a break from the foot-stompin’, shaggy-haired music so prevalent on the other side of the mountains, I have to say my soul felt filled by being at the Laurelthirst this week. Sometimes you have to move away to remember who you are.