One's a Long Time Two's a Fly By
He could easily pass for a character in one of his own songs - a small-town boy from North Carolina, apparently destined for a career working in the mills, who discovers the transformative power of music. A late bloomer when it comes to rock 'n' roll, he discovers Bob Dylan at 18, gets around to listening to Willie Nelson a few years later and is turned on to Van Morrison just last year. Armed with a guitar and a dream, he migrates to East Tennessee and begins pulling himself up the rocky face of the local music scene, one gig at a time. It would make a great song, but it makes an even better story because it's all true. Sam Lewis is that small-town boy, from Asheboro, N.C., who first came to Knoxville in October 2005. 'At the time, a lot of my friends were graduating from college, but I didn't go,' Lewis told The Daily Times this week. 'I jumped right into mill work and that kind of stuff; growing up I had a lot of goals and dreams, but like a lot of everybody else's, they got tossed to the side. I always kept my nose clean and kept out of trouble, and I've always been work-oriented. But at night, when the Blue Ridge breezes blew east across to the Piedmont and back west again, Lewis couldn't help but think that maybe he was meant for something more. Call it the siren song of music, or the seductive pull of the open road on the heart of a troubadour. Whatever it was, Lewis packed up and headed to Knoxville. He had been dabbling in songwriting for several months, having taught himself to play some standards. It wasn't long before songs started pouring out of him. He admits he had no idea how the songwriting process worked; he usually started with a good melody and went anywhere from there that his muse took him. Choosing Knoxville was another random stroke of luck - he thought the local music scene would be accommodating, and he was right. At first, he got started locally playing free shows at coffeehouses like The Lost Savant, on Broadway in Knoxville. His music is straightforward singer-songwriter folk - a guitar, Lewis's world-weary tenor and a batch of songs that show off his influences but are original in their own right. He's still honing his chops and finding his niche, and slowly but surely, he's winning over locals. It hasn't been easy, but he's been willing to put forth the effort. And most of the time, it pays off.