Lewis & Clarke, Jonathan Byerley and Morris Mertz at The AFA Gallery
Three very unique storytellers are ready to bare their musical souls this Friday night in downtown Scranton in an intimate, artistic space readily waiting to accept their offering. Join in celebrating music, art and life in the Electric City when La Société Expéditionnaire presents Lewis & Clarke, Jonathan Byerley and Morris Mertz at The AFA Gallery’s recently opened 2nd floor, 514 Lackawanna Ave., June 29 at 7 p.m. Admission is $6 and it is an all-ages show.
Lewis & Clarke is the musical project of Lou Rogai and a number of featured collaborators. Hailing from Delaware Water Gap and prominent in the indie-folk scene, the group focuses its musical energy by creating vast sonic soundscapes while leaving plenty of room for personal reflection and interpretation. Rogai is currently playing a string of shows before wrapping up production on another Lewis and Clarke record.
“I’m doing a few solo shows, which I haven’t done for years,” Rogai said. “Solo shows are crazy for me because I can mess with the song structures and lyrics on the spot. I like to do that. I also feel very exposed performing music alone that was intended for thick arrangement.”
The sound of Lewis & Clarke has evolved throughout the years as Rogai began to search for ways to create the music firmly planted in his brain. He claims he is closing in on the sounds stuck in his head.
“In the early stages of L & C, there were no real goals, just open space to fill. I also didn’t know how to achieve the sound I had in my head. I still don’t, but I’m getting closer. I think if I ever actually achieve that I’ll quit music and start doing paint-by-numbers.”
Rogai also dedicates his time exposing unique music of like-minded artists through his own record label, La Société Expéditionnaire. Byerley and Mertz fall into that category of people Rogai wants to work with; people who offer something soulful and truly genuine.
Byerley hails from Brooklyn, N.Y., and is releasing his first solo LP on La Société Expéditionnaire. “I think he’s a phenomenal and unique songwriter,” Rogai said. “He gave me a demo copy of his new record, Catherine Market. It floored me; the lyrics, production, everything.”
Mertz is a Scranton personality and showman Rogai is looking forward to working with. Mertz recently released a two-song single entitled Mo’Sho and is gearing up for production on a full length LP for release on the La Société Expéditionnaire label. “If you know Morris, you know about how he’s always going on with his rhymes,” Rogai stated. “Not just the predictable rain/train standards — he’s got skills. I’m happy to help him share his new album with the world via La Société Expéditionnaire once it’s finished.”
Rogai is looking forward to the upcoming Scranton performance, as well as the opportunity to soak up the inviting atmosphere of The AFA Gallery.
“AFA is such a unique entity,” Rogai said. “They are a magnet for community and host great events for people all ages. It’s always optimal to work with folks who foster the idea that music and art are to be appreciated as a creative expression and focal point. That is very important to me.”
— tom graham
La Société Expéditionnaire presents Lewis & Clarke, Jonathan Byerley and Morris Mertz, June 29 at 7 p.m., The AFA Gallery Upstairs $6. The show is all ages. For more information, check out www.la-soc.com.
Rogai on the photo shoot: “It’s inspired by Michael Halsband’s Warhol and Basquiat shots. We basically re-created the shot, and it was important to do it as an homage, not as a spoof. Photographer Dino DeNaples really took to the idea, and we made it happen. Morris was full of vigor, our friends were there, and it was a super fun shoot to do in the upstairs space at AFA.”