By choosing the street as an elected place for his own live performance, he demonstrates an approach to music without filters or constraints, and the desire to seek a genuine contact with the roots and their dynamics: for Lewis Floyd Henry, born in London in 1980 by Jamaican father and English mother, being a buskers is an essential experience to do. Despite the signed contract with the British label Adjust, for which he recently recorded the album One Man & His Pram 30W, and despite he started to perform all over the world, the only real stage for him continues to be the street, the crowded square kissed by the sun, where he captures and entertains the passersby with his blunt and energetic style. With his guitar, a small battery and an amplifier which propagate rough and intense sounds, Lewis fully embodies the on the road spirit.

At the Bloom’s backstage in Mezzago, on the occasion of his recent Italian tour, he explains us the origins of his vocation, not before he placed his trusted companion in life, a Gibson ES 335, in the chair beside him, like his queen. “I started playing when I was eleven. But actually all began at the age of three, when my mother gave me a little toy guitar. I don’t ever separate myself from it. I remember that when a rope was broken and my mother threw it away, for me it was a shock, I kept yelling: «Where’s my guitar? ».”
With his black suit and his curious old-style hat decorated with pearl buttons, just like the traditional British Pearly Kings, Lewis has almost the air of a bluesman from the past. His first performance on the street was at the Borough Market, the famous local market under the railway of London Bridge. This first, timid attempt to show his talent to the world did not go unnoticed, indeed gives him the courage to continue and soon become a familiar face, a familiar voice.

The days of Lewis Floyd Henry are held under a more or less regular program: the control of the weather forecasts on the web (the weather is one of the worst enemies of a street musician!), pickaback tools and then on a motorbike to Camden, Brick Lane or some other high traffic areas. But to be a busker is not simple: “Playing on the street is a little how to do graffiti. Years ago I was a graffiti artist, and I had several problems with the law. You know Jean-Michel Basquiat? He started down the street and now his work has been exhibited in prestigious galleries. A lot of great art comes from out there, but most people need to see a work in a gallery or a musician on a stage in order to consider art what they have ahead. The last time I played in Brick Lane I’ve received a fine. The charge? «Obstruction of public land.» There are very few places in London where the land belongs to the community, one of them is the bank of the Thames. I have a very smart friend who plays guitar right there, wearing a suit as a fisherman, so no one can chase it away! Don’t think I could do something like that.

Composing the Lewis’ equipment traveling there is also a vintage baby pram, unconventional transportation vehicle and bizarre theatrical element to his shows. ”I love old prams, especially those with large metal wheels, just like in Mary Poppins.” Comes to mind the Rolling Thunder Revue, a tour that Bob Dylan taken in the mid-seventies, with a caravan full of quirky musicians. ”In fact, before becoming a one man band, I played in a group, but we broke up following the abandonment of the drummer. I’d like to collaborate with different musicians. It would be nice to have the strings, but also electronic rhythms, being in the center of a small orchestra in which classical and contemporary are mixed.” Playing on a beach, under a tree, in an open air festival: this is what Lewis Floyd Henry loves to do more. “If someone would tell me that from now I will be forced to play only in shabby and dark places, I would fall into depression. The next album, I want to register it in Winter: I realized the first one in Summer, and it was a great pain to be locked in the studio.

text by Francesca Cogoni
photos by Carlo Beccalli per DROME magazine

web: www.lewisfloydhenry.com