Harmonica Lewinsky [Pop / Rock, Solo Artist]
Harmie brought his full Cockney repertoire to the cavernous Cavalier pub in Whetstone and he had to fight his way through the crowds to get to the stage, arriving with his guitar, a collection of harmonicas, his cloth cap and braces and a mug of jellied eels.
This was a real Cockney knees-up evening for the regulars, who included in their midst the Pearly King and Queen of Purley, or was it Finchley?
Kicking off with Chas 'n Dave's raucous toe-tapper, "The Sideboard Song" the cheeky chappie tackled a lovely bunch of Cockney ditties, including Tommy Steele's showstopper, "What A Mouth"; an entertaining version of the old Billy Cotton (now there was a good old Cockney) number, "The Marrow Song"; and the singalong tunes, "Maybe It's Because I'm A Londoner", "Show Me The Way To Go Home", "Meet Me At The Church" and the tasty, "Hot Meat Pie, Saveloys And Trotters".
Highlights of the first set were Harmie's harmonica-led rendition of the Shadows' classic instrumental, "Apache" and, following a request from a punter, a countryfied version of "What Made Milwaukee Famous", which was part made famous by Rod Stewart.
The lovable Cockney character was in humorous form too calling for 'security' when a man approached him for a request, and in telling the audience: "As this is Whetstone I thought we ought to do a song about infidelity," before launching into Gene Pitney's, "24 Hours From Tulsa", complete with harp solo.
The second set brought more Cockney treats with Bernard Cribbins' "Right Said Fred"; Mike Jerome's clever, "Sling Yer Hook" and Chas and Dave's weepie, "Ain't No Pleasing You".
The audience were loving Harmie by now, but soon he had to battle his way through the masses again to get to the Harmie-mobile and a trip home to the Old Kent Road.
Colin Fenn, DJ, journalistTuesday 16 August 2016
Thanks Colin, glad you liked the new old songs!
Cor blimey mate, there was this real tasty geezer called Harmonica Lewinsky down at the Old Three Wishes boozer recently...
Harmie was back with his braces, his guitar and his trusty harp and the bloke played a real blinder having trekked out to Winchmore Hill from his home in the Old Kent Road and performed two sets of pop, country and music hall songs as a kind of one-man Chas 'n Dave!
The chirpy Cockney started fittingly enough, me old Chinas, with a Rockney classic, Chas & Dave's "The Sideboard Song" then, realising he was in an Irish pub, followed this with the ever-popular "Galway Girl".
Requests flooded in and Harmie was asked to perform a song by Cat Stevens. "This is close," he said, launching into an incredible interpretation of the Shadows' instrumental "Apache" using his harmonica in the lead guitar role!
All the Pearly Kings and Queens who attended the gig loved the medley of "Maybe It's Because I'm A Londoner" and "Show Me The Way To Go Home", while West Ham fans were on their feet when the multi-talented Mr Lewinsky tackled their beloved anthem "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles" (Michael Jackson's favourite song!)
Other highlights in the first set included a mean and moody interpretation of Kenny Rogers and the First Edition's' "Ruby Don't Take Your Love To Town"; the pretty Irish ditty "Sally MacLennane" and yet another chirpy Cockney cracker in Chas n' Dave's "London Girls".
After downing a few jellied eels during the interval Harmie went back to his Cockney roots with a rendering of the the classic "Any Old Iron" before presenting some great pop songs, which included two Kinks' smashes "Dead End Street "and "Sunny Afternoon"; Squeeze's brilliant "Up The Junction" and the Lovin' Spoonful's summertime singalong "Daydream".
Other second set high spots were the soulful "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood", made famous by both Nina Simone and the Animals and a cheeky chappy version of the Small Faces' "Lazy Sunday".
By this time, it was nearly midnight, and Mr Lewinsky was still performing when I had to leave, and the pearly people were loving it! Shortly thereafter he rolled out the barrel (and his equipment) and set off for his home under Bow Bells.
Colin Fenn, DJ, journalistWednesday 6 April 2016
Hi Colin, thanks for your comments. Have a sugarlump
Before seeing this show I had heard many rumours about Harmonica Lewinsky, whose background was shrouded in mystery, although I believe he learned his harmonica skills in the Deep South in the deltas of Harrow on the Hill under the tutelage of Blind Les Battersby. But, it was a very different character to the one I expected who performed at the posh Victoria pub in Highgate!
Mr Lewinsky, looking like a cross between a rabbi and one-half of Chas 'n Dave (I'm not sure which half) appeared in cloth cap and braces and presented a highly original selection of songs, some of which rarely see the light of day.
There were no predictable “Brown Eyed Girls” or “Mustang Sally’s” here: instead - a veritable feast of the unexpected - as we witnessed one man, his guitar and his trusty harps.
When was the last time you heard a pub act kick off his set with Chas 'n Dave's “The Sideboard Song” and follow it with the Theme to “Top Cat” and then offerings of cheery, chirpy Cockney ditties including “Waiting At The Church,” “Maybe It's Because I'm A Londoner”, “Show Me The Way To Go Home” and Tommy Steele's “What A Mouth”?
I’m guessing the answer to that question is ‘rarely’ (if ever) but the fun didn't stop there. Mr Harmonica Man is a really great entertainer and demonstrated, with great finesse, his harmonica technique on - wait for it - the Shadows' “Apache”! It was quite a feat playing the melody on the harp while strumming his guitar.
‘Harmy’, as he is known to his close friends (or 'Self-Harmy‘ to others) also tackled in the first half the theme to "The Flintstones"; Elvis Costello's catchy “Watching The Detectives” and the Cockney knees-up “I've Got A Lovely Bunch Of Coconuts”.
Harmy was back in terrific Pearly King form for the second half starting with “Any Old Iron” followed by a touch of the Formbys with “Leaning On A Lamppost” after which he did a ‘Donegan’ with a riotous version of “My Old Man's A Dustman” complete with enthusiastic audience participation.
Mr Lewinsky has a great sense of humour, which he constantly shares with the Victoria regulars. "Here's another Cockney classic sung by a Welsh man", quipped Harmy before diving into “Delilah.”
Other gems included the theme tune to ‘Match Of The Day’ (played on two harmonicas); a very funny and risque interpretation of Mike Jerome's “Sling Yer Hook”; a great version of the Small Faces' mod anthem “Lazy Sunday”; and a yahoo rendition of the old country favourite “Riders In The Sky”.
After many encores Mr Lewinsky packed away his cap and braces and headed off to the Deep South (of London) for some pie and mash. The Victoria would do well to snap up Harmy for some more gigs before he hop-foots it down the Strand for a residency at the Old Bull and Bush!
Colin Fenn, DJ, journalistMonday 12 October 2015
Hi Colin, thanks for the review. Do you accept cash?
Harmonica Lewinsky, half musician, half comedian, can't be filed easily under any one genre. There are no "rawk" anthems or jangly pop toons to guide you to a familiar sense of comfy numbness you may well be used to in your local music venue.
Instead, you get a proper show. Someone - that's Phil Leiwy, crazy alchemist of alter-ego Lewinsky - has taken it upon himself to create a crisp set of upbeat, rhythmic gems played on guitar (choppy, jazzy, mellow), vocals (smooth, welcoming) and of course, a boxload of harmonicas (swanky, tuneful, engaging). But words alone seem unable to explain why, after a HL gig, you go home feeling as if you have been crane-lifted out of a ditch... If you haven't seen HL play, go and see for yourself, and let the performance into your life.
Careful listening really helps: the lyrics to many of Phil's songs - including Gordon Brown (to the tune of the Stranglers' "Golden Brown") - are wry, clever and occasionally rude. Lovers of X-Factor stability or other social brainwashing techniques may leave feeling confused.
Mac MacLaren, Lemonrock EditorWednesday 23 September 2009