“We played our first show in Fort Collins last July,” says Joe Lewis, “and we had a fantastic connection with everyone right off the bat. A lot of the people who were at that show worked at the Music District, and the Artist in Residence program came up in conversation. And literally the moment the period opened to apply for a residency — like, within a minute — I submitted ours.”
Lewis will be in town next week in support of Quinn Deveaux, whose residency at the Music District opens next Monday, March 4. The residency runs through March 10 and includes a busy schedule of performances, lessons and events.
Deveaux, an Oakland-based singer-songwriter, has been described as “vaguely retro, deeply soulful and . . . one of the Bay Area’s best-kept secrets.” His sound defies easy categorization, blending elements of gospel, country, soul, and golden-age R&B. Comparisons to Ray Charles are not inapt. Muddy Waters, Dobie Gray, and Bill Withers also spring to mind.
“Where Quinn’s strength lies is he’s a true songwriter,” says Lewis, who plays bass in Deveaux’s band (known as the Blue Beat Review). “He loves songs. It’s not about shredding and being flashy. It’s about supporting a timeless song and a timeless arrangement.”
Lewis wears multiple hats in Deveaux’s band, from bass player to song arranger, record producer and tour manager. He saw the Music District residency as a kind of working vacation, offering a mix of live performances, one-on-one instruction, and informal hanging out in a community that fits the band’s outlook on music. A highlight of the week will be the History of R & B and Soul, a 90-minute crash course (with live performance) in the artists and songs that influenced generations of American musicians. That free event takes place Thursday, March 7, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Music District.
“What really inspired us about our first trip to Fort Collins is that everybody was so engaged,” Lewis says. “We felt they’re really doing something here that people can gather around and feed off of artistically. So we were like, ‘These are the right kind of people. These are people we’d like to do our thing with.’”
“We’re always searching for our people,” he adds. “That’s why we tour. We’re finding the people that connect with us, that we relate to. You’re going to influence us, and we’re going to influence you. And then we’re all more powerful because of it.”
To sign up for lessons or check the schedule of performances and events, log on at the Music District’s residency page. BTW, Quinn and the Blue Beat Review have added one show not reflected at the MD’s site —- Sunday March 10 at Maddie’s Biergarten in Castle Rock, beginning at 2 p.m.