You Ain’t Unlucky
Blue Heart Records/Nola Blue
Veronica Lewis hails from Haverhill, Ma. located thirty-five miles north of Boston on the New Hampshire border. Encouraged by her mother (and manager) Nancy Leotta she began playing piano when she was 6 years old. The performer has been honing her rhythmically complex piano chops and expressive vocals and just turned seventeen. Her inspiration comes from pianists Katie Webster, Otis Spann, Dr. John, Jerry Lee Lewis and Pinetop Perkins. The Blues, Boogie-Woogie and Roots pianist debuted at the Rhythm & Roots Americana Festival in Rhode Island, at the Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Fest, the National Women in Blues Showcase, and at the 2019 International Blues Challenge in Memphis. She has been piling up awards including winning the Granite State Blues Challenge (New Hampshire) four times, the 2019 Boston Blues Challenge, and the Boston Music Awards’ “Blues Artist of the Year 2020”. She has opened for Eric Gales, Sugarray Rayford, Roomful of Blues, and others; and has performed with Marcia Ball, and studied with Victor Wainwright in Clarksdale, Ms.
For her first full length recording, Lewis penned six originals filled with blues progressions and vivid imagery; also included are two covers. She performs in a trio with saxophonist Don Davis, and drummer Mike Walsh, unless noted otherwise. “You Ain’t Unlucky” was recorded during the pandemic and Lewis opens with the title track. She adds “It’s about how in life there can be difficult struggles, but if you look at them from a different perspective, you grow from it.” Her expressive vibrato pairs well with the wood of her piano.
On “Clarksdale Sun” Lewis sings “we’re gonna’ beat down the angry sun with a boogie-woogie bass and drum”. “Put Your Wig On Mama”, written for her mom, is a groove that could be played in New Orleans or Chicago; and features recording engineer Ben Rogers, replacing Walsh and sitting in on drums. Another well-written and performed original is “Fool Me Twice”.
Lewis states “I wanted to pay homage to the influences who helped to create the musician I am and also represent the beginning of my career”. The re-arranged “Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby” written by Louis Jordan was first recorded by him in 1943. The other cover, “Whoo-Whee Sweet Daddy”, also re-arranged is from Katie Webster, “the swamp boogie queen”, recorded in 1987; saxophonist Joel Edinberg replaces Davis, while drummer Chris Anzalone replaces Walsh. “Ode to Jerry Lee” is a piano instrumental written for her iconic inspiration. Lewis closes with “Memphis Train” styled like an old juke-joint tune and written while she imagined herself driving to Memphis to play with Ray Charles and Pinetop.
Lewis delivers an uplifting recording as she sings and rocks on her piano. She paints herself an auspicious debut that promises much more from this engaging new artist.