April 22, 2015

The Levins at Milford Arts Council / Performance Coffeehouse

I headed out of town (or at least, a little further afield than normal) for a performance by The Levins, at Milford Arts Council's Performance Coffeehouse.

I first encountered Ira and Julia (The Levins) at Falcon Ridge Folk Festival last summer; they were one of the Emerging Artists. As has been my habit, I picked up the latest album (in digital format) for as many of the Emerging Artists as I could, pre-fest, and their My Friend Hafiz album (based on the poetry of the 14th century Persian mystic) really resonated. I subsequently contributed to their crowd-sourced new album, Trust, and have been patiently waiting for them to come to town.

Their music, as recorded and compiled, hit me right in the nexus of yoga teacher, enlightenment intensive attendee, spiritual seeker: positive, thoughtful, searching, expansive. Both My Friend Hafiz and Trust show up regularly in my "pre-class, set the mood" music rotation for yoga classes. 

So I was pretty much ready to enjoy the show, expecting a few hours of gentle, spiritual music with wonderful harmonies.

But oh, so surprising, these Levins. There was romance; unlike many musical couples, the affection, nay, love these two carry for each other is palpable and transmitted through their songs and performance, with very sweet love songs. There was humor - a rollicking ode to Charles Dickens; a nod to ethnic folk (More Yiddish!), there were beloved kids songs I have not heard in years, there were some standards. Ira in particular, seems like he might take a crack at just about any topic as a song-writer and any song as a performer, and they individually and collectively have the chops to pull it off.

They are, quite simply, a delightful addition to my folk music family, and I'm a professed fan (and possibly stalker, depending on how many shows I catch them at in the coming months)

They're playing the upcoming Hartfolk Festival on May 30 (alas, I shall be at yoga teacher training all weekend, sad because pretty much everyone on the bill are artists I have seen and love), but also Kripalu on May 2 and a house concert on  May 22. And (can we actually be thinking this far ahead?) opening for Brother Sun at the Sounding Board on Sept 26 (making that a "can't miss" night). Visit their website for their touring dates - they work a lot!

The Milford Art's Council's Performance Coffeehouse is also a little gem. Not that well attended (most of the house seemed to be regulars) and with a roster for 2014-2015 that is pretty much unknown to me. The space is an old Metro-North station, with a very high ceiling and formal stage - suited for small plays, cabaret, etc. The sound was very good (I believe The Levins brought their own) and the lighting was two cuts above the typical folk show.

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