Laurie Lewis & Friends
- Dates: September 29, 2018
- Venue: Red Hat Amphitheater
- Location: Downtown Raleigh
- Address: 500 S. McDowell St., Raleigh, NC 27601
- Times: 3-3:45pm
- Admission: Ticketed
Grammy Award-winning musician Laurie Lewis is internationally renowned as a singer, songwriter, fiddler, bandleader, producer and educator. She was a founding member of the Good Ol’ Persons (an all-female band) and the Grant Street String Band, and she has performed and recorded since 1986 with her musical partner, mandolinist and singer Tom Rozum. Lewis has twice been voted Female Vocalist of the Year by the International Bluegrass Music Association and has won the respect and admiration of her peers. A pioneering woman in bluegrass, Lewis has paved the way for many young women today, always guided by her own love of traditional music and the styles of her heroes that came before. At the same time, she has steadfastly followed her personal muse and remained open to new influences.
Her solo debut, Restless Rambling Heart, co-produced with Tim O’Brien and released on Flying Fish Records in 1986, featured seven of Lewis' original songs. The release of that album sparked interest in Lewis as a performing songwriter and bluegrass bandleader, paving the way for a career as a touring musician. Since that debut in 1986, Lewis has recorded nearly 20 albums in a number of musical formats for such labels as Flying Fish, Rounder, Hightone, Sugar Hill, Kaleidoscope and her own label, Spruce & Maple Music. Her latest album with her band the Right Hands (Tom Rozum, Chad Manning, Patrick Sauber and Andrew Conklin), The Hazel and Alice Sessions, was nominated for the Best Bluegrass Recording Grammy in 2017.
Producing has become an increasingly important part of Lewis' work in music. In addition to her own recordings, she has served as producer on 14 records and counting, starting with Scott Nygaard’s acclaimed guitar instrumental album No Hurry in 1989.
In 1999, she began working with Hot Rize guitarist Charles Sawtelle and upon his death she completed the album he had started, Music from Rancho de Ville. In 2012, Lewis jumped at the chance to produce an album for one of her musical heroes, Alice Gerrard, for Gerrard's first-ever CD of all-original material. In recent years, Lewis has produced albums by several young Bay Area musicians, including Melody Walker and Jacob Groopman, American Nomad and The T Sisters.
Lewis is also a committed music educator, teaching at prestigious camps, festivals and workshops in the U.S. and Canada. “I’ve taught fiddle, songwriting, vocal styles and harmony singing for many years,” she says. “I’ve organized and run camps: Bluegrass Week at Augusta Heritage Center for 10 years, and Bluegrass at the Beach in Oregon for 14.” She has also taught at the Telluride Bluegrass Academy (CO), Puget Sound Guitar Workshop (WA), Swannanoa Gathering (NC), California Bluegrass Association Music Camp (CA), Walker Creek (CA) and RockyGrass Academy (CO), among others.
The International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) in Nashville has bestowed several awards upon Lewis, including Female Vocalist of the Year (twice); Song of the Year for her recording of “Who Will Watch the Home Place;” and shared awards for Album of the Year for True Life Blues: The Songs of Bill Monroe and Recorded Event of the Year for True Life Blues and Follow Me Back to the Fold: A Tribute to Women in Bluegrass. This year, Lewis is also nominated for IBMA's Song of the Year for "Swept Away," which she wrote (the song is performed by Missy Raines, along with Alison Brown, Becky Buller, Sierra Hull, and Molly Tuttle). This year's IBMA Awards will be announced on Sept. 27.
Though her music transcends the formal limitations of style and genre, Lewis still sees herself as a bluegrass musician. “I’ve always thought that bluegrass was basically a singer-songwriter with string band,” she explains. “Think Bill Monroe, Carter Stanley, Lester Flatt, etc. I like to think that I fit that description and trajectory of the music rather well. I realize that not many ‘traditionalists’ would put me in that camp, and I don’t really care.
“The good thing is I’m able to express myself in a way that sounds like me, and people either like it or not. I like to do what I do, and it fits comfortably in the bluegrass camp in my head. I don’t care what other people call it.”