The 26-year-old Fort Lauderdale singer-songwriter Travis Newbill writes tunes that are one part quirky acoustic, one part angst, and one part philosophy. With a weekly gig at the nautical pub the Jib Room, a bar off of Oakland Park Boulevard just west of Federal Highway, Newbill fuses pop hooks with Jeff Mangum-type vocals, and writes loads about what any kid growing up listening to Green Day in the 1990s would have: love and angst. His songs about ex-girlfriends are reflective, lacking in the cheese department, and simple, straight-forward heart-on-sleeve poetics.
But angst and love don't necessarily go together, as Newbill hilariously and cleverly communicates through his "Sex Gender Song," a philosophical pondering -- inspired by Judith Butler's Gender Trouble and delivered with a bit of Ani DiFranco spunk -- about a boy anxious over what it means to be a boy or a girl and about deconstructing the sexual paradigms he sees around him. Lyrics like "I'm going to stand up in the ladies' room/sit down on a urinal/I'm going to write I'm gay I'm straight I'm gay across pages in my journal" are not only funny, but subversive in a way that's not going to offend anyone or send frat guys running.
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Newbill leaves Florida Tuesday, but will resume his weekly gig at the Jib Room in September. Meanwhile, the Jib invites musicians and spoken-word artists to come Sundays for an open-mic night and all-day, all-night happy hour. The Jib Room is located at 2104 E Oakland Park Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. For more information, call 954-564-3581 and ask for Steve.