ROXBURY, NJ – Singer-songwriter Lee DeWyze says the largeness of the room doesn’t matter. He connects with audiences, and enjoys doing so, in all types of venues.
Nevertheless, in some ways the little Investor’s Bank Theater in Succasunna is likely to be the perfect size for DeWyze when he plays Friday night. At the 7:30 p.m. show, presented by the Roxbury Arts Alliance, it will be DeWyze, his guitar and the audience.
“I do everything, from solo, duo to trio, but generally I’ve been going out solo,” said the 33-year-old Los Angeles resident. He's in the middle of a 10-stop, small-venue tour that began in Connecticut and ends in Wisconsin. “I think there’s an intimacy to the shows that I’ve really grown to love.”
As the Season 9 winner of American Idol and the creator of many songs used in movies, TV shows and commercials, DeWyze has played big houses. For example, he opened for Lady Antebellum at the 12,400-seat Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, RI.
He said he’s equally comfortable performing for big crowds as for a few folks at a house concert. DeWyze realizes it’s just “performing to the people.”
“I feel very connected, whether it be a huge show or a small show,” DeWyze added. “I think people are really connecting with the music I’m playing now. It’s a really good feeling.”
Loving the Craft
The important thing, he pointed out, is that he still loves it. That’s largely because his post-Idol success – starting especially with the popularity of “Blackbird Song,” written for The Walking Dead series – has afforded him the freedom to focus on live performances of songs he wrote just for the sake of writing.
“The last several years of my career have been focused on the songwriting aspect what I’m doing,” DeWyze said. “It’s really been about me. With the last few records, in the last few years, I’ve been able to do what it is that I live to do: Write music and go out and play music.”
He got some early fame covering others’ songs, but DeWyze stressed he’s been writing his own material since his early teens and intends to stick with it. Covers were never, like, my thing,” he said. “It’s not like I was an artist that played covers and now I’m writing my own music. I’ve been writing my own stuff since I was 14.”
His early influences include Cat Stevens, Simon & Garfunkel and John Denver. He likes the magic of matching notes to lyrics in a way that evokes emotion.
“I’ve always been drawn to the storytelling side of music and the emotional connection you get with people from music,” DeWyze explained. “I’ve always been hyper-focused on storytelling through lyrics. I really want people to feel the way the music sounds; to feel the same way it sounds. It’s like the songs are these little 3- or 4-minute soundtracks to whatever might be happening in our lives.”
No Lessons and Lessons Learned
DeWyze said he taught himself to play guitar and he never took a singing lesson. Time and experience have been his best instructors when it comes to capturing joy and pain.
“As time’s gone on and I’ve gotten older, my songwriting evolved,” DeWyze said. “I think I’ve become more comfortable writing about me and less concerned about getting too personal with my music. It’s been a freeing feeling for me.”
While many of DeWyze’s songs are melancholy, the artist said he’s “been happily married” for almost seven years. Nevertheless, everybody has ups and downs, he said. His goal is to capture in song the experiences that come from being human.
“Those topics, love and hate, things like that. I think we all experience those things in life one way or another,” DeWyze said. “Music is one of those things that kind of bring people together. We can both sit down and enjoy a song or be touched by music or a song.”
Tickets to the show are $30 in advance, $35 at the door and $70 for VIP. They can be purchased online by clicking here.