Jeffrey Lewis Rocket Room, St. John's NF, April 18

Jeffrey Lewis Rocket Room, St. John's NF, April 18
Photo: Vish Khanna
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Comical comic genius Jeffrey Lewis had never been to Newfoundland before and, as expected, like a true champion, he left an indelible mark. With his deadpan, rapid-fire smartassery, Lewis remains a kind of beacon for uncompromising songwriters who long to carve a real niche for themselves. People laughed and laughed during his rhythmic jokes, hidden surreptitiously within folk ballad arrangements, or at the banter about security at Pearson Airport in Toronto misplacing his belt in the x-ray machine and simply giving him one of their own instead. In town to play and also lead a panel on comic books (he's been publishing his own, Fuff, since 2004), at one point, he put his acoustic down to sing along to illustrated films projected behind him, skewering the history of monarchies, and also a Jeff Buckley song whose absurd lyrical imagery he illustrated meta-literally. When he was strapping on a harmonica in the key of C, he admitted he only bought it two weeks ago and had no idea how to play it. Yet play it he did, confident that whatever he blew into it during a funny song (in the key of C) about being by yourself, would be fine. He was correct; Bob Dylan is a fraud? He read a brilliant, newly composed poem called "What Would Pussy Riot Do?" as a critique of weakling American bands selling out to shill corporate products, and the thunderous response suggested he touched a nerve. He threatened to play an endless set and then thought better of it, promising to figure out a way to tour to St. John's from New York City some day, instead of flying there. It's the best way to keep your belt.

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