As a part of the sixth annual Porch Stomp season, we're working with Beehive Productions, NYC Ferry and Blue Point Brewery to bring you a series of videos featuring artists spanning the gamut of NYC folk scene (and then some). Check out our blog every month for new videos and interviews with artists, and be sure to follow us on instagram: @porchstomp and Facebook: Porch Stomp
While there are many songwriters in New York whom I admire, I’d be hard pressed to find one that I respect more than Jasper Lewis. Prior to the summer of 2016, Jasper was an auxiliary part of my New York experience; he was a regular in the Hoover Dam Collective scene and frequently showed up at artistic gatherings, toting guitar and softly crooning lesser known songs as part of our circle jams. However, after being introduced to his album The King of Ideas and the Weirdo Kid while traveling cross country with Theo, I found an entry way into his music via the opening track, “High Strung Poets”, and from there the gravity of his songwriting became immediately apparent.
Since 2016, I’ve found the same nugget of brilliance tucked into each and every one of his songs. Jasper’s understated vocal style highlights the brilliance of his lyrics and the nimbleness of his arranging. His lyrics harken to the flow of John Prine and the quirkiness of Roger Miller with an emphasis on simple story telling. Each concept pivots to the next only as a necessity, providing a welcome emotional entry point for listener and fellow performer alike.
Jasper also dons the identity of a musical craftsman; he writes frequently and with great attention to detail. Unafraid to take risks, his brilliance radiates from each new song. This is perhaps most palpable at his regular song debuts at Big City Folk’s weekly Song Club, where their “Song Challenge Word” invites writers to compose using the word of the week, a place where Jasper’s wit and problem solving capacity truly shine (he went an unprecedented 50 weeks in a row). Further, Jasper 'lives' his songwriting style, where his somewhat off-kilter perspective feels authentic to his pensive performance aesthetic.
Check out Jasper Lewis performing "Cabin in the Woods" live on Governors Island as a part of our sixth annual festival this past June. Continue reading for a (succinct yet poignant) Q&A and be sure to find his music online at the link below.
How did you first get connected to Porch Stomp and what is your favorite Porch Stomp memory?
I was at the first Porch Stomp! Nothing compares to stepping onto Governor’s Island and finding your friends playing music out on the porches.
To say that we’re absolute fans of your songwriting would be an understatement; what are your songwriting, vocal and guitar influences, and in what ways have they shaped your sound and artistry?
My parents got me started in music, so they’re probably my biggest influences. As far as songwriting I’ve always been really drawn to words and wordplay. On guitar I’ve always liked the idea that the guitar can be the whole band, so i try to play a full rock arrangement on the guitar.
Where are your favorite places to make music here in NYC and what is your favorite gig memory?
First time I ever played in New York City at the old Goodbye Blue Monday when a whole bunch of people showed up and listened to me even though they didn’t know who I was. That’s when I knew it was time to move to NYC.
How have you watched the NYC folk scene change since being in New York? Both for better and for worse?
I’ve seen a lot of great venues close which is always sad. I don’t think of myself as a part of the NYC folk scene, I”m more like an eccentric urban hermit who writes songs, so I don’t know what the scene is doing.
What is one piece of advice you’d offer to aspiring songwriters here in NYC and beyond?
Write what you want to hear.
For more information about Jasper Lewis, visit :
Special thanks to Jeff, Sue and Redia of Beehive Productions as well as the fine folks at Blue Point Brewery for making this video possible.