Chuck Levy

 

Chuck's Music Videos

Welcome to Banjourneys

Hello Friends,

Welcome to my online music hut.  Take a look around, set a spell, give me a holler.  My Banjourney has led me to all sorts of interesting people an places, from Ohio and Illinois, West Virginia, Virginia, North and South Carolina, to Mars and back, to The Gambia and Senegal, and home to Gainesville, Florida.  Along the way I have picked a bunch of banjos, a few fiddles, and an akonting or two as well, and some stories to tell.  What about you?

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Chuck Levy Takes his instruments seriously: He uses five banjos, something called a mandoline-banjo, and a banjo fiddle on this recording. Each insrument-from a six string fretless built by Ken Bloom to the August Pollman mandoline-banjo is a work of art in and of itself. Obviously, Levy is a player who appreciates variations in tone an timbre, in deciding that one banjo may benefit “Salt River” and another “Money in Both Pockets”. Joining Levy are fiddlers David Forbes and Mike Eberle, and guitarist Bill Dudley in a program of 20 warm, down to earth performances. Levy notes that the album was recorded over the span of one evening and one morning, and that most of these songs/instrumentals were recorded in or two takes. This approach imbues pieces like “Jimmy Shenks” and “Tippecanoe” with a live feel, as though Levy and his friends were just sitting around picking after dinner or breakfast. Though the most common instrumental arrangement here is banjo and fiddle, the arrangements never fall into a predictable pattern. The lingering “Flames Upon the Cuyahoga” spotlights Levy and a Vega Tubaphone with an unusual tuning. “Little Olentangy” features fiddle, banjo-fiddle, and guitar–and since the banjo-fiddle basically sounds like a fiddle, this creates a combination of twin fiddles with guitar backing. “Sugar Cane Dance/Levy’s Jig” is another solo piece, performed on a hollow –toned “Five string Grain Measure banjo made by Bob Thornburg”. The vocal selections come as a bit of a surprise, because the first doesn’t appear until the sixth cut, and even then the vocal doesn’t kick in until the 40 second mark. These and the following vocals on “Milwaukee Blues” and “Red Rocking Chair” are well sung and offer a little variety over the course of the album. Levy says in the liner notes that the music here represents “a preliminary work in progress”. These songs/tunes are lively and do reflect–as Levy hoped they would-the warmth of making Music with friends.