Jon and Carrie Lewis Online


Mar 29, 2011

Jon Lewis featured in The Gazette

Thursday, March 10, 2011

An ‘Excellent' blend

Frederick folk, acoustic rock sets sail at The Basement Coffeehouse


Frederick folkie Rick Hill may be preaching to the choir Friday at Emmitsburg's Elias Lutheran Church, but it's doubtful anyone will mind.

Hill, who will perform as part of the church's Basement Coffeehouse ministry on Friday evening, plans to share selections from "The Excellent 11," his lyrical adaptation of educator Ron Clark's book of the same name.

In an effort to reach the broadest audience possible, Hill turned to his passion for music. In 2010, he began to pen songs corresponding to each of Clark's titular characteristics.

Passion is the name of the game for Hill's co-hosts Friday evening. The musician plans to sit in with colleagues Jon Lewis of Frederick folk duo Jon & Carrie Lewis and Michael Provencher of the up-and-coming acoustic band Set Sail Joseph.

"It's kind of fun the way this show is starting to come together," says Lewis, who has been increasingly touring solo since his wife Carrie gave birth to their son Zander in 2008.

"Carrie and I do a lot of shows together, still," he says. "As many as we can. I consider myself a Dave Matthews wannabe, while Carrie has an Alicia Keys, Nora Jones sort of thing going on. And we get this kind of folk-rock, piano-driven mesh when we get our styles together."

In fact, the duo — who met while studying at Pennsylvania's Baptist Bible College — launched its official website two months ago.

"For a long time it was ‘Go to our Twitter,' ‘Go to our Facebook,' ‘Go to MySpace.' We're excited about the fact that there's now one site for everything," Lewis says.

However, it may not be long before the site must go under construction once again to accommodate a trio.

"He's only 2, but I'm finding out he has very good rhythm," Lewis says of son Zander. "He'll pick up drumsticks while I'm practicing, and start drumming away – and he plays in the right spots ... Our next child will have to be the bassist. We have a drummer. We're putting together a nice little family band."

Lewis, who performs at least once a year at the Basement Coffeehouse, is good friends with Set Sail Joseph frontman Michael Provencher, and encouraged the band to come out and jam on Friday evening.

Originally from New Hampshire, Provencher has been living in the Westminster area for seven years, and has been writing songs for 10.

"A lot of my songs are about my own struggles with fear and doubt," he says. "They're sort of an honest expression of those themes. And that can be isolating, so I [see them] as kind of catharsis, while also an expression of solidarity for people who may be going through the same thing."

A couple of years back, Provencher enlisted a few friends to play alongside him. The group landed a spot in a battle of the bands competition at Baltimore's 8 x 10 club, and Set Sail Joseph was born.

The alternative-folk, acoustic rock band — which includes bassist Ben Ogden, percussionist Scott Cole and electric guitarist Mark Schuit – has since toured the region's coffeehouse circuit. On Saturday, they will open for a CD release party for fellow indie rockers This The Rescue at Towson's Recher Theater. Provencher had asked Lewis to sit in for that gig. Lewis, in turn, suggested a Basement Coffeehouse primer.

"He gave us that push," says Provencher, who notes he and the crew look forward to playing a new venue. "We're grateful for the opportunity."

After this weekend's performances, Set Sail Joseph will take a breather while it launches a campaign in hopes of raising studio funds.

"Hopefully, we can take that time to get a record out," Provencher says.

But first, to take Emmitsburg by storm with some good – and new – friends.

"I think there will be something for everyone," Lewis says. "Our styles – while there are some similarities, I think the audience will be getting some really interesting and different music."

Basement Coffeehouse

Featuring Rick Hill, Jon Lewis and Set Sail Joseph

-When: 7 p.m. Friday

-Where: Elias Lutheran Church, 100 West North St., Emmitsburg

-Tickets: Donations welcome

-For information: