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.
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.