Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Music Beyond Amazing

If you know the music of Howard Levy, you know amazing. I had the extreme good fortune to see him twice in a week. Both concerts were completely different. Each left my jaw slack. The first gig, in Chicago, featured Howard's vocal compositions by an ensemble of Roosevelt College students and the percussion of Ruben Alvarez. The second was at The Baggot Inn in New York, in The Village last Sunday.

The Baggott Inn gig featured Howard's son Miles on drums and Chris Siebold on resophonic acoustic guitar. Siebold is a wizard. His chops and Howard's gave each other structure and challenge. Each climbed on the other's shoulders in succession, reaching for the stars, higher and higher, air underneath, the city receding below.

The climax of the evening came deep into their second set. Siebold sang the only sung song all evening, a blues in the Chicago, Muddy Waters style. Except that the kid was just monster, singing in a wail, ripping riffs out of the heart of his guitar as if the world was ending. Then after about five intense minutes, he kind of stopped playing. Howard kept the blues going on piano and harmonica, and Siebold'd hit a chord or pluck an occasional riff, but mostly he sung his story . . . she left him for his best friend, they got married . . . his father even spoke at their wedding but his words were false . . .

It was the most technically brilliant, passionate and personal blues I ever heard. I've got some familiarity. He left no ambiguity about why the blues was invented. At the end, Siebold didn't even try to play. He just put his arms over his guitar, hung his head and let Howard play out.

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