Located in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, with an intensely immersive culture, know for its massive wooden sculptures (not to mention the burning thereof), and a temporary city of more than 70,000 people that appears for one week in late August, Burning Man is the Grand Daddy of all festivals. Now the Grand Daddy is about to meet New Brunswick’s Feels Good President of Funk: Stephen Lewis.
Stephen Lewis is a busy musician, there’s a reason he’s been called The Big Band Of One – from regular shows at Fredericton’s Snooty Fox, to touring festivals all season, to being a constant support to the east coast music scene. His funky looper set at the East Coast Music Awards was one of our favourites. It’s a long way from an East Coast showcase to the desert though, and Lewis is still catching up with the fact that it’s all come together.
“A man who I call ‘The Burning Man Man’ emailed me. I thought it was too good to be true. Then it wasn’t! It was all true!!!” says Lewis.
The mysterious ‘Burning Man Man’ who books one of the festival’s stages was given an earful of Lewis’s Bedroom Funk Jams earlier this year, and was hooked. A slew of correspondence later, and he was trying to get Lewis to play the festival.
“[He] was really into it! Then he was insistent on getting me there. Like non stop contact,” says Lewis. “I never thought I would play at an event like this. I mean five years ago I was playing to crowds of three people at Mexi’s and now I’m going to play Burning Man! I wouldn’t say that Burning Man specifically has been on my radar but mainly because I never thought I’d be offered a set there. I obviously am a die hard festival performer so it’s pretty crazy to be going to play the grand daddy of all festivals!”
The trouble: it was the chance of a lifetime, except the festival offered everything except a plane ticket. Lewis almost passed on the opportunity before friends stepped in. One went so far as to start a GoFundMe to make sure Lewis got off to the desert. Even then, the ever humble Lewis almost didn’t accept it.
“I fought with her so much about taking it. I didn’t feel right about it at all, but then she said, ‘Look at all these people that want you to go play there! Are you gonna take that away from them?'”
“Through all the help and all the friends that want to see me go play there I got most of the help I needed to go. It’s going to be a crazy adventure. Even just surviving. It’s pretty legendary – I’m from a community of like 1500 people outside of Fredericton and now because I play funk loops I get to go tear up the desert.”
Lewis flies out tomorrow, having prepared himself by reading the Beginners Guide To The Burn, purchased some appropriate desert wear goggles and some large water containers.
“I also have masks and a go get er’ attitude.”
If you happen to find yourself in the Nevada Dessert this week, Stephen Lewis will be playing the Silver City Stage, located at 7:15 and H, on Wednesday afternoon (sometime), Aug 30th and August 31st at 3:45pm. In the meantime he’s playing a Snooty Fox send off show tonight at 7:45pm.