By John Benson
When you’re a multi- instrumentalist, opportunities come in many different forms.
Such has been the life of Eliot Lewis, who got his start in the ’80s playing with the Average White Band.
“You know, that was awesome,” said Lewis, calling from Seattle. “I never expected to join the band. What happened was I started writing with Alan Gorrie. I had written a bunch of songs for this comeback record of theirs. And before I knew it, I was in the band. That was something that I always hoped to experience playing on that level. The music was so great.”
For more than a decade Lewis was a fixture as a singer and bassist in the Average White Band. Not only did this keep him busy but it also introduced him into larger musical circles.
This included getting to know John Oates and Daryl Hall. In fact, Lewis said for years the latter hinted that one day he would be asked to join Hall & Oates. That first opportunity took place in the mid-’90s.
“There was a situation where I ended up subbing as a bass player in Hall & Oates,” said Lewis, who in the past worked with Joe Walsh, Todd Rundgren, Dave Stewart, Rob Thomas and Smokey Robinson. “I had very short notice to learn the show of 17 songs. So Daryl knew I was versatile and could play a bunch of instruments.
“When I left the Average White Band a year or two later, I got the call to play keyboards. But I never intended to be a performing keyboard player. It’s sort of like the position that opened up in Hall & Oates. I enjoy it. It’s a lot of fun, but my main performing instrument has always been guitar.”
Therein lies the benefit and burden of being a talented multi-instrumentalist: you’re highly sought after, yet can easily get sidetracked from your own musical intentions.
That explains why during his downtime with Hall & Oates, Lewis is exploring a solo career. In fact, his fifth studio album with him playing every instrument is due out this fall. This includes new songs “Live and Learn” and “Back to Basics.” Lewis described the material as rock and soul with a little bit of blues overtones.
Lewis said he’ll be playing those songs as well as choice covers from The Average White Band, Hall & Oates, Smokey Robinson, Todd Rundgren and Joe Walsh at an upcoming free Boardman gig Thursday at the Magic Tree Pub & Eatery.
When asked about what music lovers should expect from his upcoming local show, Lewis said, “There are little elements of the Average White Band and Hall & Oates but actually what I do on my own is a little bit almost classic rock with some blues and soul to it. The shows are a good time. It’s fun.”