Photo by James Lockridge/Big Heavy World. Text by Tom Proctor.
Tim Lewis joined host Brent Hallenbeck for ‘Rocket Shop‘, Big Heavy World’s local Vermont music radio hour on 105.9FM The Radiator.
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Tim Lewis knows local music. For thirty years he has been a common staple at gig nights in and around the Vermont area, taking in three live acts a week since he was seventeen. With a brain full of local beats and itchy fingers eager to give you the low down on what new licks are reverberating around the area, it’s only natural that Big Heavy World has teamed up with Tim to bring his long standing music blog into the BHW fold. Tom Proctor sits down with Tim to get a little bit of background on the latest BHW crewmember.
How did your blog start?
Originally it started as a friend of mine wanted to start a record company and gave me a role going out and writing about the bands I was seeing. That only lasted about a year but the writing bug hit hard so I started writing posts to my MySpace page and when the website ultimately crumbled I became a little lost on where to host my work. I stopped posting for a while but then I lost my job and was feeling a little down and so I started up again blogging on Word Press and continuing my chronicling. It’s now become this huge archive. It’s pretty cool.
So you have seen two or three gigs per week for over thirty years. What is your drive to see so much live music?
Just something about it really clicks with me. Sometimes you need something to do and just knowing that it’s out there is very reassuring, it feels like its always there for me. It doesn’t matter which day of the week it is, I can go out, spend five dollars and see a band. Eventually it became more of a thing and so now I like going out and seeing a band I know, a band I know a little about but still very curious about them and a band I know absolutely nothing about. Those are the coolest shows.
Do you schedule your viewing of shows based on those attributes?
It’s not quite that structured, I usually just flick through the listings and see what grabs me. I tend to get quite loyal to bands when I really like them, for a while I had a great streak with The Nancy Drew. I had seen all of their shows for months but eventually they played out of town and I had to miss it. Its not about perfection though, its about going out and having a good time.
Do you have a personal connection with the bands you are “loyal” to?
Yeah I’ve met a lot of people over the years that have played in multiple bands. It’s been very cool to watch them evolve. The more you see a band the more you interact with them and get to know them.
Do you feel you’ve influenced their music in any way?
I don’t know. I hope I influence their desire to play music. I always feel like I don’t know what to expect when a band embarks on a new project. Often, at a gig, they’ll ask what song I want to hear but I just tell them to play whatever they wanna play. When that happens they’ll usually play a song I’ve never heard before and that immediately becomes one of my favorite songs. I don’t really want to influence, I want to react to whatever they’re feeling at the time.
What is your preferred music venue to view a band in Burlington?
I am pretty open to almost any place, if it has a good soundboard and acoustics that’s just a bonus. Nectar’s and Metronome are great. I really like Radio Bean and the Light Club Lamp Shop is an amazing setting. You never know when a new venue will pop up though; Foam Brewers is a great example of a great new local music venue that only recently came about.
Are there any bands that didn’t make it big that you thought should have and were there any bands you were surprised made it as far as they did?
I was very surprised at how big Phish became, I still remember seeing them a few times in the early days. You always had to set a time to leave rather than wait for the end of the set because you had no idea when they would actually finish. I remember seeing they were playing out of State and beginning to realize they were really going somewhere. I was hoping the band Red Telephone was going to make it further after they got signed to Warner Brothers, but that never really happened, same with Zola Turn. At this point I figure if a band I like makes it then that’s great, but if they don’t, well, I can still enjoy their music.
Is there any thing about music that the causal listener may have missed that you’ve picked up on after seeing so many live sets?
It’s fun to really listen. Just hear what’s happening and hear where they’re going to take the song. Often you can try and guess and figure out where there going and either be right or be totally surprised about the direction it heads. There’s something very beautiful about that. Any one can go to a gig and understand that experience. Hearing something that goes to a place totally unexpected it, it really challenges you. Sometimes you may like it, sometimes you may not but either way it’s going to make you think.