While waiting for the interview to start, Lewi Longmire noodled around on the beautiful 1965 Martin D-18 guitar he bought off Keely Goodwin a year & a half ago. He said he loves to play it when he’s not plugged in, because the Martin “sings acoustically”. He describes the guitar he plays live as a “cheap Takamine” with “great pick ups.” Sound is obviously important to Longmire, who prefers to play through his Fender Deluxe amplifier instead of plugging into a venue’s PA.
Sound isn’t all Longmire loves about music – the message is important too. “Song writing should express a deep essence of you,” he told us. He played backing guitarist for years before he even began writing his own songs fifteen years ago. Initially, he wrote just to have songs to sing, and he modelled them after Bob Dylan’s writing style. However, he felt like they lacked substance. He feels it is backwards to write to have a finished product instead of due to something deep in his heart, and the songs he played in studio reflected that. Lewi has a brilliant way of bringing his introspective lyrics to an approachable, understandable level. For example, “Lucky Man,” a song he played for us in studio, speaks to his ability and desire to see the best in a situation, even if it may look to anyone else like a situation gone horribly awry.
The hardworking Portland musician has played over 260 shows on his Takamine in the last year without ever going on tour. However, he wasn’t always a Portland musician. He moved here years ago, after he got turned on to Portland during the mid-1990s Western states tour of his Albuquerque band, Apricot Jam. It was while on tour that he met PRP DJ and local musician, Michele Van Kleef, as well as local band the Decemberists, who hosted Apricot Jam in Portland. Longmire found the Portland music scene to be “warm & open & fit the musical tambor; beautifully lush & green & politically Progressive.” Albuquerque and surrounding rural communities in New Mexico sadly didn’t seem to have the same kind of support one could and can still find in Portland, so it seemed only natural that he would want to relocate here and keep playing his music.
Longmire encourages others to make their own brand of music, saying things like, “Play as much as possible; play for free, play on street corners,” and “We all want to leave our voices behind – make art and make a lot of it.”
“Humans are evolving faster & faster,” he continued. “The internet makes making music so much easier than it used to be. These days, you can record music at home (digitally) and share it with the world for nothing. Everyone can do it and everyone is doing it, so there is a lot of music out there to sift through. ”
When asked to give advice to anyone hoping to get into the music of business, Longmire chuckled that he doesn’t know much about the business side of it. He pondered the question for a beat, before saying to “serve the music. Find out your relationship to it, and why you want to do it…If you love your own music, but maybe your specific career doesn’t pan out like you expected, you’ll still be okay – if you serve the muses.”
Longmire pointed out that Portland has an embarrassment of riches in our warm, supportive and diverse music scene. “Go see someone plying his art, because it’s out there and it’s great.” Support local music! Longmire’s black dog, Sally, who howls along with horns or a guitar solo, would definitely agree.
Please enjoy our interview and playlist with Lewi Longmire.