Blues/Folk


For many, music is the sole ambition in life, the be-all and end-all of existence. Not so for English singer/songwriter David Lewis. For him it's more avocation than obsession, as he makes his living as an academic, lecturing at the London School of Economics. Music has always been a part of his life, however. Growing up in Bath, in the south west of England, he was surrounded by it, as his entire family was musical, and by the time he was a teenager, in the mid-'70s, Lewis was playing guitar and keyboards, influenced equally by artists like Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, the Strawbs, Al Stewart, the Clash, and Patti Smith. University, where he studied anthropology, expanded his horizons to include both soul and Lou Reed, while playing synthesizer in a college band named Zero Option, whose career went absolutely nowhere. Lewis' next real musical experience came when he began graduate studies at Cambridge University, where he met up with another grad student, Wesley Stace, the man who would eventually become known as John Wesley Harding. Sensing similar eclectic musical tastes, the pair hooked up and began playing old folk and blues tunes, learned off Ry Cooder records, and busked around the city with another friend, David Baddiel, who'd go on to his own fame and fortune as a comedian in the U.K. However, it was anthropology that really claimed Lewis' attention as he completed his studies. But while on field work in Bangladesh in the late '80s to complete his Ph.D., he began writing his own songs, which he worked on with Harding, the two communicating via tape and fax. Three of their co-compositions -- "The Red Rose and the Briar," "Ordinary Weekend," and "Cupid and Psycho" -- appeared on various Harding albums.

However, it wasn't until the mid-'90s that Lewis began work on his own debut record, recording in San Francisco (where Harding now lived), with Harding and Scott Matthews producing, and guests like Robert Lloyd and R.E.M.-er Peter Buck helping out. The disc, No Straight Line, appeared in 1996 on Dejadisc, only to vanish again when the label went out of business. Almost immediately, Harding andLewis began work on a new record. This time, however, the recording would be a very drawn-out affair, given Lewis' teaching schedule and Harding's career demands. In fact, what would become For Now was recorded in three sessions, spread over five years, and included a guest vocal from longtime Lewis hero, Al Stewart. Following the album's release on Appleseed in fall 2001, Lewis undertook a U.S. tour, opening for Harding. ~ Chris Nickson, Rovi