Artist Spotlight: Laurie Lewis

Laurie Lewis loves to set out on new adventures, and her new song, “Just a Little Ways Down the Road” and its accompanying video, celebrate her peripatetic ways. The jaunty song scampers along as Lewis dances and sings about the new vistas that lie around every bend and the joy of setting out on a new trail to discover just what’s over the next rise in the road. Lewis and her band mates are having fun in the video, and we feel as if they’re each wearing their own traveling shoes as they shed the heaviness of being stuck in one place and join Lewis as she capers lightly down this virtual musical path.

A prolific songwriter, Lewis admits that she’s felt very distracted through this pandemic and sheltering in place. “I feel like I start things and I don’t finish them. I’ve written two songs: ‘Just a Little Ways Down the Road,’ and the other is a silly song,” she says. “In this day, everything is so heavy,” says Lewis, who is also helping to care for her 94-year-old mom, and so careful about her interactions with other people. “The song came out light and happy!”

An avid backpacker, Lewis heads a little ways down the road more these days than she’s had a chance to do when she’s been touring full-time. In July, she spent a little over a week in Sequoia & Kings Canyon, and in early August she’s backpacking the trails for the same amount of time in Yosemite National Park. “Being in the high country is necessary for my soul,” she reflects. “I generally take a long trail because I want to hang out. I like the walking pace; I like big vistas.” She writes about, and shares gorgeous photos of, her backpacking adventures on her blog highsierrarambles.net.

This down time off the road has given Lewis the opportunity to do more backpacking than usual. “I used to backpack all the time when I was a teenager and into my early ‘20s.” When she started playing music, she very seldom backpacked. “I discovered that very few musicians I knew wanted to work so hard backpacking,” she laughs, “so I sort of suppressed it for years. Then a friend asked me if I would go on the John Muir Trail with her, and I agreed, so I started again.” Her time on the trail gives her a chance to “reflect on things that I don’t have a chance to do when I am running off to the next adventure.” One of the greatest lessons she’s learned is that “a lot of times the trail is just a slog, but I love the slog because that’s what out there.”

“Just a Little Ways down the Road” captures the experience of the trail and the freedom of walking it brings. Lewis and her band mates—Brandon Godman on fiddle, Patrick Sauber on banjo, Haselden Ciaccio on string bass/vocals, and Tom Rozum on mandolin/vocals—take turns meandering down the road in this joyous song that celebrates the freedom of the road. Even when though some of the musicians might be sitting down, you can see from their expressions that they’re strolling and dancing along the trail with Lewis.

The video wouldn’t have happened without the generous support of Music in Place (www.musicinplace.org). The organization was “established in April, 2020 by a core group of music educators – music/video techies, legal, finance, and business professionals – who are also accomplished musicians – to provide assistance to our suddenly displaced and struggling Bay Area Musicians Community.” Lewis’s brother told her about it. “I had to fill out an application, so I did and waited,” she says. “I had no idea if I would hear anything or not. Music in Place accepted the application. Everyone did an iphone video and we sent it in for them to put together. Matt Montgomery did the video editing and Michael Hatfield did the audio mixing.” As Lewis says, “The great thing about this organization is that that they pay the musicians.”

Thanks to Lewis, her band, and Music in Place, we now have the soundtrack and Lewis’ wise counsel for these times: “Well, every time I get the blues/I put on my walkin’ shoes/I find a trail/ Just a little ways down the road.”

Follow Laurie Lewis on Facebook or at her website LaurieLewis.com.

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