“The best lyricist working in the US today.” – Jarvis Cocker (Pulp)
“Hands down my favorite contemporary songwriter” – Ben Gibbard (Death Cab For Cutie)
“The Big Apple’s best-kept secret…. Genius-gone-ignored… mind-blowing.” – NME
Jeffrey Lewis is truly an original talent. Born and raised on the lower east side of manhattan, his father a blues guitarist, mother a community activist, uncle a beatnik poet-rapper, cousin a free jazz clarinetist, and his entire neighbourhood a nexus of truly radical counterculture throughout the 20th century, where everyone from Allen Ginsberg, the Fugs, Lou Reed, the Silver Apples and David Peel, to Suicide, Patti Smith and Richard Hell has dwelled. Jeff grew up just a couple of blocks away from CBGB’s, and right around the corner from the Sidewalk Cafe, where he started performing in the late nineties at a weekly “anti-folk” open mic night. The parameters being anything that is not your typical, boring open mic, this legendary post modern mashup was the spawning ground for such diverse talents as Kimya Dawson and Adam Green of the Moldy Peaches, Diane Cluck, Turner Cody, Dufus, Langhorne Slim, Regina Spektor, Shwervon!, Ish Marquez, Shilpa Ray, Darwin Deez, Thomas Truax and many others, all pushing each other to greater extremes of freakish inventiveness.
Jeff signed to Rough Trade Records in 2001, debuting with the Last Time I Did Acid I Went Insane, and other favorites, he has since released five more proper LP’s, several self released EP’s and two collaborative albums with Peter Stampfel of seminal 60’s freak folk band the Holy Modal Rounders. Jeffrey has been self-publishing a comic book series called “Fuff” since 2004, has lectured around the world on topics such as the graphic novel Watchmen and independently produced music, and in recent years his work has been featured by the History Channel, the New York Times, the Guardian, NPR, and elsewhere.
As of 2014 his most recent projects have been creating the soundtrack for the film Radio Unnameable (distributed by Kino Lorber), illustrating Jaimee Garbacik’s academic book Gender and Sexuality For Beginners, writing/drawing a 9-page comic book biography of Woody Guthrie for the Paul Buhle-edited book Bohemians, writing/illustrating/publishing three installments of Sonnet Youth (an attempt to rewrite the discography of Sonic Youth in sonnet form), and finally publishing Fuff #10.
A perennial favourite onstage in the UK, his live show is always pushing the envelope and bursting with surprises, like his comic illustrated “music videos”, history lectures in song form, poetry readings, and a range of raw musical styles from intricate finger picked solo acoustic guitar to maximum fuzz garage punk smashers. His adept lyrical storytelling ranges from the humorous, self-deprecating and disarmingly confessional, through surrealist, psychedelic dreamscapes, to incisive political commentaries.