NEPA Scene Staff

NEPA rocker turned Nashville singer/songwriter Bob Lewis performs at Karl Hall in Wilkes-Barre on April 27

NEPA rocker turned Nashville singer/songwriter Bob Lewis performs at Karl Hall in Wilkes-Barre on April 27
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From a press release:

After nearly 25 years of musical highlights and misadventures – from punk shows in Pennsylvanian coal country to folk gigs along the California coastline – Bob Lewis has reached the “End of an Error” with his latest album.

The Northeastern Pennsylvania native turned East Nashville troubadour will return to his hometown area to perform some of those songs with fellow Music City songwriter Megan Palmer at Karl Hall in downtown Wilkes-Barre on Saturday, April 27, the only Pennsylvania stop on the pair’s spring tour. Wilkes-Barre singer, songwriter, and producer James Yamrus will open the all-ages show.

Doors at Karl Hall (57B N. Main St., Wilkes-Barre) open at 7:30 p.m., and the concert starts at 8 p.m. Tickets, which are $10 in advance, are on sale now via Eventbrite. This event BYOB for 21+ (with a $5 corkage fee).

Written and recorded in his new home of Nashville, “End of an Error” marks Bob Lewis’ first solo release in eight years. After playing in NEPA rock bands like Bedford, Good Grief, Mr. Echo, Ends with Disaster, M80, Ale House, 123Go!, and Cash-O-Line, it’s a musical rebirth, filled with a mix of melody-heavy indie rock, lo-fi pop, alternative country, and Americana singer/songwriter stories that tackle big subjects – from love in the modern age to the lingering, undetonated bombs in the Vietnam jungle – without taking themselves too seriously. Mixing honesty and humor in equal doses, the album embodies the East Nashville neighborhood in which it was created – rooted in oddball charisma and genuine craft, but buoyed by enough DIY cred and off-the-cuff spontaneity to separate it from the albums made in the big-budget studios across the Cumberland.

Lewis recorded “End of an Error” with a rotating cast of Nashville-area musicians, roping guests like Megan Palmer, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Jamie Kent, Micah Hulscher, Andrew Leahey, and others into a six-song tracklist. Planning the tracking sessions around a busy schedule filled with work shifts at the 5 Spot (one of East Nashville’s longest-running clubs, where Lewis debuted several of the songs live) and scattered tour dates, he set up shop at a home studio with Nate Wedan and Dexter Green assisting him as producer and engineer, respectively. Together, they began assembling a record that was at once melodic and experimental, filled with unexpected key changes, swathes of reverb, layers of guitar, and deceptively simple lyrics that offered new insight upon multiple listens.

For Lewis, the recording process offered a chance to ditch the sounds of his past – a past that began in rural Northeast Pennsylvania, where a thriving punk and hardcore scene offered some reprieve from the boredom of a dead-end town, and continued on the West Coast, where a young Lewis briefly relocated in search of a place to call his own – and embrace something new. Nashville is certainly an industry town, one whose biggest artists often embrace modern trends in order to continue their hit streaks. Lewis throws that rule book out of the window and chases his own muse instead. Songs like “Dark Glasses,” whose Lou Reed-inspired verses give way to an anthemic, Bruce Springsteen-sized chorus, preach the gospel of blazing one’s own trail. “Help Us Now” and “Drunk on Love” channel the chiming acoustics and bright bounce of George Harrison – particularly his work with the Traveling Wilburys – while “Long Time” puts a darker, hazier spin on the classic power pop catalog.

Throughout the tracklist, Lewis hoists his freak flag high, proudly nodding to his favorite songwriters while twisting their influence into new shapes.

“I’m an AM surfer, searchin’ for a signal,” he sings during “Long Time.” “End of an Error,” with its mix of the fresh and the familiar, finds him turning the dial into that unique signal, proudly broadcasting it for anyone willing to turn on, tune in, and drop out. It was lauded by Rolling Stone for its songwriting merit and its representation of the artistic klatch that collaborated on the project, calling the album “dreamy Americana-pop with introspective, often quirky, lyrics that underscores the diversity of music coming out of East Nashville.”

“Opener ‘All My Sins’ is moody and brooding, with Lewis singing about the interminable boredom of that Pennsylvania existence and trying to make sense of ‘all the stupid shit’ he did in his youth. He returns to that bleak notion at record’s end, hopelessly declaring ‘nobody cares, what’s the point’ in ‘Help Us Now,'” Rolling Stone reporter Joseph Hudak wrote.

“But ‘End of an Error’ isn’t all Lewis’s personal therapy. Rather, it succeeds because of its accessibility, a result of Lewis recruiting the hook-minded writer Jamie Kent (‘Ain’t No Jesus’) for the middle meat of the record. ‘Dark Glasses’ shoots an arrow through the heart of conformity, as Lewis obliterates the idea that a person’s outward image defines what’s inside. ‘It’s getting harder to pretend / in the show that never ends / the letting-go must begin,’ he sings, setting up a pre-chorus battle between ‘giving up’ and ‘fitting in.'”

Megan Palmer, an accomplished violinist and songsmith, released her Nashville debut, “What She’s Got to Give,” in 2016, a volume celebrated by the East Nashvillian as a musical rebirth following a tenure in Brooklyn, New York, and an examination of the obstacles of artistic life. Her honesty and vulnerability can be heard in “Stetson,” the latest single and title track of her upcoming album, which draws upon her recent successful battle with cancer.

An engineer at King Room Studios in Wilkes-Barre, James Yamrus also writes, records, and produces his own music. In 2017, he released a series of ambient alternative rock singles and was back at it in January, offering a preview with the folky “It’s on Us.” Yamrus plans to release all of this music and more on a spring record titled “Awake.”

Lead photo by Stacie Huckeba