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Dora Lewis

PRETTY THINGS

PRETTY THINGS

This photo was taken October 2002 when I opened for Wilco. Tift Merrit was supposed to open, perhaps she was ill,  so I got a call from the manager of the Mercury on 6th street in Austin TX.  He said ‘Hey, would you like to open for a surprise show that Wilco is doing in a few weeks?  It’s to open the Austin City Limits Festival’.  I had never heard of the band.  I phoned Darwin Smith, my friend and producer at the time, and asked if this could be a good thing? He was always educating me and informed me that Wilco was only the hottest alt-country rock bands in North America.   So, I phone the venue and said I would do it , they cleard it with Wilco’s people, and then boom, I had my first BIG gig! This photo on the right is me warming up in the bathroom.  Glenn Kotche had just joined the band as their drummer, and in the hour leading up to the show he was very kind to me in the stairwell. We sat together cross legged and he listened to me nervously rehearse a brand new song (probably Daisy), and the 2-3 other original songs I had prepared.  I remember him taking a call from his wife I think, he had recently become a father?  Anyway, this was a big deal for me, especially since at the time I was a bit crushed from being kicked out of a cool rock’n’roll band. My debut album Pretty Things had yet to come out, and I remember feeling somewhat transient.   I received the physical copies of my album 2 days following this show. I think I passed along a burned CD of my new album to Wilco’s tour manager.

Photo by Evan Kolvoord

Darwin Smith-Producer (left) and Erik Wofford-Engineer/Mixer (right)

When I think of Pretty Things, I try not to fester on the fact that these were not my strongest songs as a singer or songwriter. My favourite song on the album is Always Rain. It has a pulse and electric rhythm to it that I longed for in my future works.  These songs were however my first attempts at searching for something in music, and I can hear a very young and undeveloped voice. I also hear all the people and surroundings that influenced me at that younger time in my life.  I remember Austin, my friends and supporters, the humidity, the food, the music scene that my friends were a part of. I remember hearing The Tragically Hip perform at Stubbs and being introduced to Gord Downey briefly by my friend Mark Goldstein. I remember performing at South By South West 2001 and 2002, in a super fun 70’s Rock Revival band.  I remember meeting Shawn Colvin at a Waterloo Records album performance and getting her autograph, and then Patty Griffin at a strangers wedding and relating over our upbringings in Maine and New Brunswick.

I really remember and appreciate the wonderful musicians who performed on my record: Charlie Larkey (upright bass), Ben Rodell (Bass, Farfisa), Jon Greene (Drums), Darwin Smith (vocals, guitar, piano, moog synth), Bukka Allan (wurlitzer, nord synth), Kim Deschamps (dobro, mandolin, pedal steel), Brian Stander (cellos), Carolyn Cremona (clarinets) and Erik Wofford who mixed the record and played guitars as well.  I remain grateful to Darwin Smith, who saw something in me and my songs, enough to make a record with me. Darwin introduced me to Americana music, and he played electric guitar at many of my first shows. Darwin always made me laugh and feel at ease and he was a gem of a musician and producer. I don’t think  he’s dead yet, but I haven’t seen him in a long time and I miss him.

You can find my album Pretty Things on iTunes,  Apple Music, and Spotify.  Come to my shows to get the physical album for those of you who still have CD players at home or in your car!

Songwriting in Austin TX / 2001

Photo by Evan Kolvoord / Austin TX 2002

Photo by Evan Kolvoord / Austin TX 2002

Photo by Evan Kolvoord / Austin TX 2002