Lewis Melville

Compilation CDs
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Lewis Melville is a Guelph, Ontario multi-instrumentalist (guitars, banjo, pedal steel, bass, mandolin), composer, and producer. A veteran of the Canadian alternative/roots music scene, he is well-known for his work with the likes of Rheostatics, the Skydiggers, the Greivous Angels, Pat Temple and the High Lonsome Players. When he's not producing, recording, or writing, he also can be heard playing in Dave Clark's (Rheostatics) free-style freakout jazz ensemble the Woodchoppers’ Association, or twangin' it up with Guelph's premier rural route swingsters the Hoofbeats. His two solo albums (Niagara, DROG 1995; Not Really A Bluegrass Album, DROG 1998) have been well-received by campus radio and played on various national radio shows (CBC). A third solo album is due out in early in 2002. He can also be heard on scores of recordings (Cowboy Junkies, Thirteen Engines, Rheostatics, The Waltons, Bird Sisters, Black Cabbage, Dissemblers, Barenaked Ladies, Bourbon Tabernacle Choir, Kyp Harness, Adam Faux, Kim Stockwood...), and seen as a guest performer with the Nick Craine Big Band, Barzin, Kate Richmond, Tannis Slimmon, and others.

Composing and recording an album’s worth of music for an album can be both time consuming and expensive for individual artists. As a consequence, long periods of time can elapse before new material reaches the public.

The DROG theme albums were designed as a catalyst to encourage the creation of new work, and to provide an interim showcase for songwriting, music composition, and performance art. Coincidentally, it turned out that participation in the projects also increased communication and cooperation between artists not normally working together, and allowed the artists to compare their work to that of their peers when challenged with the same set of circumstances.

In order to construct a “theme” album, a general invitation went out to artists to write and record a single song on the chosen topic by the given deadline. Inclusion was on a first-come, first-served basis, and there were no qualitative judgements made (provided the content conformed to a universal standard of human rights) of submitted material.

The results show how each participant rose to the challenge and, though it is by no means a complete picture of our community, each theme album is an excellent representative snapshot of the talent, and skill that can be found therein at that particular moment in time.

The songs themselves are timeless.

These albums have been fun to make, and have been extremely successful and popular with participants, critics, and fans alike. They demonstrate a tremendous diversity of ideas and style. The high overall quality of the production and music, all done quickly on a shoestring budget, is a positive reflection of the creative and technical abilities of the different artists who have contributed songs over the years.

The majority of the production work for these albums has been donated, and the hundreds of songwriters, instrumentalists, poets, artists, recording engineers, and others who have worked on the “theme” songs have generously contributed their time and creative energy. All of the proceeds from the albums are donated to various benevolent organizations, including Doctors Without Borders, the International Red Cross, the Developing Countries Farm Radio Network, and others. Some of the money has helped to buy instruments for some young musicians in Burmese refugee camps in Thailand. One of their songs can be heard on the Music For Peace album. >

The artists retain all of the copyright to their songs.

Truck Songs (1996)
The first of the theme albums, and still a favourite. (recently featured in a special on trucking on CBC television’s the National.

Music for Peace (1999)
A benefit project with proceeds going to Doctors Without Borders and the Red Cross International relief program. This double album was recorded during the NATO war in Yugoslavia, and completed on the same day the bombing of Serbia stopped.

Food Songs (1999)
24 songs about food on a single CD. This project culminated in a gala concert at Guelph's River Run Centre at which all the contributors performed their song. The centrepiece of the show featured an exploding haggis, and included a gigantic feast in which both performers and audience participated heartily.

Work Songs (2001)
A benefit CD for the Developing Countries Farm Radio Network and Doctors Without Borders. Recorded through October to November 2000, this collection of 59 songs (on 3 CDs) was released in early 2001.