"...yeoman Longmire is a vital member of Portland's music scene."
- The Oregonian, 6/24/05
"[One] of Portland's finest roots players, guitarist Lew Longmire."
- No Depression, Sept. 2002
Lewi Longmire has been called "Portland's hired gun utility outfielder". He's been hired to play guitar, bass, piano, or organ for some of Oregon's finest songwriting talents. His presence is so ubiquitous in the Portland music scene that REM's Peter Buck commented recently, "It's funny... I actually went to go see a band in Portland the other night and was surprised to find Lewi WASN'T in it!"
"If I Live To Be 100" is his recorded debut as a singer/songwriter. Produced by Longmire and Adam East while recorded and mixed by Jeff 'Chet' Lyster (Lucinda Williams, The Eels, Fernando), it contains ten original songs, featuring Lewi on vocals and various instruments. He brought in several talented guests to spice up the songs, including Jenny Conlee (keys- the Decemberists), Paul Brainard (pedal steel- the Sadies, Richmond Fontaine, Fernando), James Whiton (double bass- Tom Waits, Eric McFadden Trio, Apricot Jam), David Lipkind (harmonica- I Can Lick Any SOB In The House, the Supersuckers) and Caleb Miles (guitars, bass, keys and production- Kentucky Snakehandlers). The music has been described as "comfort food" and "like going home". It has kin in the rootsy, basement feel of The Band, the bluesy swagger of Tom Waits, the stripped down country soul of Willie Nelson, and the psychedelic streamings of Moby Grape.
Being born in rural New Mexico, Longmire found there was not much to do around there but watch the sunsets and listen to the dust blow back and forth. Out in that land of siestas and relative quiet, he was seduced by the gritty sounds of rock and roll (the real, original, scratchy 45 rpm kind), country (of the AM radio variety), blues (best heard on a street corner), and the local mariachi music. Playing records at the wrong speed provided strange comfort. Around age 13 his father would leave guitars around the house, saying, "Now, DON'T TOUCH THAT!" and then hide around the corner and wait for the inevitable rebellion to take it's course.
After moving to Albuquerque to attend college, Lewi formed the acoustic acid folk jamband Apricot Jam and dropped out of school almost immediately to tour the western states. Over the next seven years, that group released three albums and played literally hundreds of shows, turning on many fans and getting to share the stage with many fine acts. Eventually the band moved to Portland, Oregon before calling it quits. Since then, Lewi has been honing his musical skills by diversifying, learning to play (or at least make some kind of pleasant sound) almost every instrument he can get his hands on. He's been fortunate enough to play with musicians such as Victoria Williams, Michael Hurley, Tony Furtado, Jerry Joseph, Scott Law, Jackie O-Motherfucker, Tim Easton, Hazeldine, Kevin 'Bingo' Richey, James Low, Little Sue, Michael Dean Damron (I Can Lick Any SOB in the House), Fernando, Caleb Klauder (Foghorn Stringband), the Freak Mountain Ramblers and Hillstomp. He hopes he has learned a little something from each of them.
Some time ago, Lewi produced the album PERFECT DAY FOR A FUNERAL for his friend Mike Damron. It's Mike's first solo disc away from his popular rock band, I Can Lick Any SOB In The House (in which Lewi was a founding member), and reflects a rootier side of his songs. You can find it at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/mikedamron.
Lewi and his current performing band have released a live disc recorded in the summer of 2006. It can be found at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/lewilongmireband.
He can also be found playing behind Michael Hurley on his latest release, "The Ancestral Swamp," out on Gnomonsong Records in Sept. 2007.
What folks say about "If I Live to be 100":
"...recalling a time when music was made without computers and albums were made to be listened to in their entirety.
-Donald Shark, Performing Songwriter magazine
"...a relaxed, steady-rollin' sound...Longmire is smart, subtle and the master of the tasty fill... (his) new CD, suggests that he's equally adept as a sideman or bandleader."
- John Foyston, The Oregonian (Portland, OR)
"(Lewi is) widely known to posess some of the hottest guitar chops...in Portland's throbbing-with-talent roots-rock scene. The album...sounds so warm and natural it seems as though it somehow recorded itself."
- Jeff Rosenberg, Willamette Week (Portland, OR)
"Longmire's significant gains in the composition department are brought to vibrant, soulful, epic and oft times heartwrenching fruition. Albuquerque's painful loss is once again Portland's gain."
- Michael Henningson, Weekly Alibi (Albuquerque, NM)
"In 10 self-penned tracks, he covers a range of styles, from near-bluegrass to country soul to greasy blues, with excursions into mostly acoustic country-folk as well. Best of all is his voice, a clean and clear high baritone that combines the finesse of a James Taylor with the warmth of a Ray Wylie Hubbard. If I Live to be 100 is unassumingly impressive, and lots of fun to listen to."
- Gary Whitehouse, Green Man Review