Brian Lisik jokes that he's "a writer you can dance to."
He's a reporter and columnist for the Cleveland-area Sun newspapers and has a couple of book projects in the works. But many of his tales are set to music and have been released on three albums, the latest of which is "The Mess That Money Could Buy."
Those songs have drawn comparisons to Paul Westerberg, Jeff Tweedy, Tom Petty and the Old 97s, and Lisik said he believes his experience as a reporter and writer gives his songs a distinctive sound.
"I see my songwriting as more literary than the standard, certainly more reporterly," he said. "I approach both mediums in the same way, but not everything is a story and not everything is a song."
A colleague once described him as "Erma Bombeck in a leather jacket," and Lisik said all of his work tends to blur the boundaries.
"It's really hard to separate the two," he said. "I'm a writing singer and a singing writer."
When you go
WHO: Alexis Antes and Brian Lisik
WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Lemon Grove Cafe, 122 W. Federal St., Youngstown
HOW MUCH: Free
"Mess," released in late 2012, took longer to complete than originally planned, some of the delay was on the creative end and some on the production end. Lisik always is writing, but a collection of "definites" didn't emerge as quickly as he would have liked.
"I guess there was a lot of crap between these 11 songs," Lisik said (check out the songs "A Mess" and "Yesterday Wasn't Real" for starters for examples of the quality Lisik found among the definites).
Once he was ready to get in the studio, capturing the right sound was just as elusive.
"I wasn't getting what I wanted," he said. "Why don't the songs sound as good as the demos did?"
Now that the record is out, he is happy with it, and he'll be playing several of those songs when he plays a free show Saturday at the Lemon Grove Cafe with Alexis Antes. He's known Antes for years and went to see her play recently at a winery. He was talking about wanting to break into the Youngstown market, and Antes mentioned the shows she's been playing at the downtown Youngstown venue.
"The Lemon Grove was definitely on my radar," he said. "I heard it's a really cool place. It will literally be my first time there. I hope it brings out some folks who don't often get a chance to see me around there."
Lisik already has several songs finished for his next album, and he'll be adding film to his diverse body of work. A live concert DVD should be released soon, and a documentary about Lisik and his music is in the works called "The Wrong Side of the Canal."
"It's a story about a guy from Akron who isn't a member of the Black Keys."