Noah C Lekas is a poet, essayist and journalist. His first book, Saturday Night Sage (released April 13, 2019) is a collection of narrative prose exploring mysticism and menial labor in contemporary America. After calling all four corners of the country home, his work is as uniquely American as his perspective. The first literary release for San Diego record label Blind Owl, the collection gives voice to an often overlooked and undervalued, working-class experience. Hailed as “A punk séance for the beat spirit,” Saturday Night Sage weaves the unwavering ethos of post-industrial Wisconsin with the poetic tradition of New York City and the eccentric Rock ‘n’ Roll soul of San Francisco.
Even before its official release, the collection inspired other artists to take Lekas’ words beyond the page with audio recordings and visual art. San Francisco artist Alan Forbes, best known for his work with The Black Crowes, Mars Volta and Patti Smith, brought the title piece to life with original cover art. Saturday Night Sage is the first poetry collection to feature Forbes’ work. Six recordings were also made featuring Lekas reading with accompaniment by members of Mrs. Henry and Taken By Canadians. Those recordings were then interpreted by film makers Scott Rosenbaum (Sidemen: The Long Road to Glory), Shelby Baldock (North Mississippi Allstars) Joshua and Jeremiah Zimmerman (The Silent Comedy), and Elizabeth Lekas (Visual Artist) for a series of promotional short films.
In a time when spirituality is often confrontational and nuance is trivialized, Saturday Night Sage fearlessly digs into American culture. In its unique rhythm of Thoreauvian romanticism and punk contrarianism, Lekas defines the poetic voice of blue-collar mysticism.
Now Saturday Night Sage has been interpreted in a new audio EP called Sounds from the Shadow Factory, which is due out February 19th, and today Glide is excited to offer it as a premiere. The EP finds Lekas collaborating with a handful of talented musicians to elevate his spoken word poems into rock and roll performance art. We hear Howlin’ Rain laying down scorching 70s blues-rock complete with slide guitar on the blistering opener “Saturday Night Sage” and Chad Lee of The Silent Comedy laying down drum textures on “The Word.” Lee is joined by Ben Ambrosini for the feedback-laden psych-jam “Steamroll the Sky,” which injects an urgent energy into Lekas’ poetry. Mrs. Henry adds jazz sensibility to “Out of the Storm Drains,” which finds Lekas reflecting on his love for that style of music, while Ben Ambrosini returns on album closer “We Got a Problem” to amplify Lekas’ ominous and haunting reflections. Though it all we see a poet who knows how to turn the world around him into vivid depictions that brings to mind Hubert Selby Jr. and darker figures of the literary world.
Noah Lekas reflects on how this collaboration came to be:
“Writing is such a solitary activity that any opportunity for collaboration is a welcome one, especially with my pals. I was a fan of Alan and Ethan long before our paths crossed, and we’ve all become good friends since. Dan Cervantes of Blind Owl and Howlin’ Rain is really the linchpin of this whole project. I first met him at a pick-up gig with Chad Lee five or six years ago, and the rest unfolded from there. For these recordings, I really took off my musician hat and focused on just being the writer. I gave as little direction – in most cases no direction – as possible and encouraged everyone to run whichever way the wind pushed ‘em. I was certainly interested in using recording as a poetic tool, but more importantly, I was interested in recording as a vehicle for collaboration – a document of moving sonic progression.”
Dan Cervantes (Blind Owl Label Owner) adds his own take:
“This EP is a true collaboration from pen to paper to book to film to record. Noah’s writing has sparked a series of creative projects that I am proud to be a part of with the Blind Owl team. I am grateful that so many peers have acknowledged his creativity and contributed. The title piece, “Saturday Night Sage” is a great example of this; an archived one-off jam from the 2016 Howlin Rain album rehearsals got dug up during the endless quarantine lockdown of 2020, launched into the cosmos by the remote recordings from Pat Gublur of Garcia Peoples, spoken word mantras from Hafsa Fathima and Alan Forbes put it to ink. It happened over a weekend last fall, sparked by a conversation with Noah last summer along the lines of – “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if we did this…” Noah’s always got another idea and I’m crazy enough to keep rollin’ with them. Sometimes we soar but we at least always sail. It’s all about seeing where the wind takes us, which I think is cool. I can’t wait for the next project together.”
Sounds from the Shadow Factory EP is out February 19th. Pre-Order: https://noahclekas.bandcamp.com/album/sounds-from-the-shadow-factory