Preview By Kevin Wilson [email protected] Amos Lee is an increasingly popular songwriter who has been winning over audiences worldwide since “retiring” from his teaching career. And it is likely that at the not-so-ripe old age of 30, the musically ambitious Lee has not even begun to hit his creative peak. His work as a composer is informed by myriad influences. “Growing up I listened to R&B, hip hop and the occasional hair-metal band, but it was all pop music,” Lee said. “Then I started working at a record store, which opened me up to people and styles that I wouldn’t have heard of otherwise. Soul, jazz and world music started creeping into my consciousness, as did songwriters like Bill Withers, Townes Van Zandt and John Prine. So, I have a good frame of reference to work from now, but it keeps me aware of the need to get better and better at what I do.” Though it is difficult to detect any residual hair-metal in Lee’s first two studio albums, those records do pay homage to and are indeed mixtures of all those early influences. Following Lee’s initial successes, he was invited to share stages with Prine, Merle Haggard, and Bob Dylan (who Lee was recently in town supporting last November). Lee did not, however, hang around their dressing rooms seeking wisdom. “I take guidance more from what they do. Those guys are resilient,” Lee said. “They are always on the road connecting with their fan base, and they are still trying to stretch themselves artistically.” Following the example of his mentors, Lee is touring in support of his soon to be released third disc, Last Days at the Lodge. His traveling road show, which includes a full band, returns to Louisville on Wednesday, July 23, for a date at Headliners Music Hall (1386 Lexington Road, 584-8088). Lee’s set typically encompasses material from each of his records, an assortment of non-album tracks and anything else rumbling around in his head. The concert is scheduled to start at 9 p.m. and tickets will go fast.