Friday, April 6, 2018

Interview: Matt Chrystal Talks to Sam Lewis

Photo by Ryan Musick

Luck Reunion Roundup, Part 1

by Matt Chrystal

The sun has risen and set on this year's Luck Reunion Festival, and the dust has long since settled on Willie Nelson's Ranch in Spicewood, Texas, where the epic celebration took place on March 15th.

I am back home now, trudging through the snowy sludge that is springtime in New Jersey. However, my mind is still deep in the heart of the Lone Star state and I am fondly replaying some the many, many highlights of my time spent at Luck.The all-day fest was full of high points and incredible collaborations, and the tone was set right from the get-go as singer /songwriters Sam Lewis, Caleb Caudle, Courtney Maria Andrews and Kevn Kinney teamed up for an old fashioned song swap.

Nashville-based, singer / songwriter and all-around super chill dude, Sam Lewis brought his guitar, positive vibes, and heartfelt tunes down Texas to kick off the Luck Reunion festival. Lewis went in with high hopes of hanging with Willie Nelson and swapping songs with his friends. In advance of the show, I caught up with Mr. Lewis via phone. He was taking a break from building his deck and enjoying a moment to himself at Hill Country BBQ, near his home in Tennessee. I could almost smell the smoke in the air as the sounds of classic country bellowed from a jukebox in the background. We had ourselves a nice little chat about his anticipation for his gig at the ranch and for his forthcoming album, Loversity.

You will be kicking off the Luck Reunion fest with what's being called a "song swap" which boasts an eclectic lineup of Kevn Kinney, Caleb Caudle, Courtney Maria Andrews, and yourself. Can you share some details of what we can look forward to?

Sam Lewis: Kevn doesn't have an "I" in his name. Is that a typo? I was going to ask him about that but maybe I’ll let you ask him about that for me. The set is early in the day for me. I usually don't wake up before 1pm, but that day I will be up and I'll be looking forward to it. It's also nice to have an early set because I will have the rest of the day to see great performances from other bands instead of constantly checking my phone for the time to see when I'm up next.

I will have to bring my A game since I am playing with such great songwriters.

A song swap is really called a "songwriters' round," and we do them in Nashville where a few musicians sit in a row; and each one plays a song going down the line and starts over and keeps going on until someone tells us to stop or leave.

What does it mean to you to be asked to play the Luck Reunion at Willie Nelson's ranch?

SL: Just the thought and the consideration and then to be asked to join in on this occasion is just about as cool as it gets. It's an honor. Some of my biggest heroes have been a part of Luck, and anytime something gets me closer to that point is a good thing. I can only hope that I am walking down a similar path that my heroes have taken; and fortunately for me this time around, the path has led me to Willie's ranch. That really is about as good as it gets.

You have a bunch of friends playing Luck Reunion that I am sure you are looking forward to hanging out with but who are u most looking to checking out on stage?

SL: I don't have much of an agenda other than to have a good time but there is a bunch of people I want to catch. The Texas Gentlemen for sure. I saw them once at Americana fest, and they were a breath of fresh air. They are really talented and really cool guys. Aaron Lee Tasjan is an old neighbor of mine that I am looking forward to seeing. Nikki Lane and Lily Hiatt are in the same zipcode as me, but I never get to see them so I will check them out. And Lukas Nelson. I saw him play with Neil Young, and he really does it for me. I want to make the best of this day and just be the fan of music that I am.

Will you be looking to find Shotgun Willie to indulge in some of that sweet weed he is famous for? Ya know, for medicinal purposes, of course.

SL: That is pretty high up on my list. I am going to play it by ear, but I think the odds are in my favor that I may get to smoke one with Willie. After I smoke with him, I will have to get up out of there pretty quickly because I usually wind up talking a bit too much when I am that way. I am definitely going to give it a try while I am there, for sure.

Help me out and be my tour guide through Austin on my way to Luck Reunion… where should we eat, drink or party at or what should we go in in search of?

SL: I will be in search of Willie Nelson and his weed, everything is just whatever.

Will you be sticking around during the week to check out the SXSW festival happening in Austin?

SL: I am flying in to play Luck and flying back to Nashville the next day. I just have a whole bunch of stuff going on.

You have a new record, Loversity, set for release on May 4th. I can assume, given the title, this album may also contain some very positive vibes. What can you tell us about the record?

SL: I have been processing a lot of thing over the last few years and these are songs that I wrote for me. I thought I would share them and, maybe they can help someone else who feels the same way I do or help them have a conversation or help them get the ball rolling to get them somewhere else that they need to be. The record is really personal and it is not political.

What am I forgetting to ask you that you are going to complain about after we hang up?

SL: You didn't ask me what my favorite color is. It is fuchsia. No, it's not. It's light grey. Make sure to spell it g-re-y and not g-r-a-y.

The new album, Loversity, will be released May 4th. Sam Lewis will be performing at the Mercury Lounge in NYC on June 9th.

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