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Levi Dean & The Americats: now Free and Untethered
March 24, 2019
By Andrew Hamlin, March 14, 2019 -San Diego Reader
Levi Dean, born in Virginia, late of the Rocky Mountains, late of Nashville, lately seen around University Heights, Normal Heights, and North Park, has had good and bad shows all over the country.
“One of our worst shows,” he recalls, “was a show on tour at a seedy bar in the backwaters outside of Tampa Florida. The audience expressed unhappiness with our original tunes by yelling ‘Quit playing that Earl Scruggs shit and play us some Haggard!’ When we wouldn’t comply, we were kicked off stage and asked to leave with no pay.”
“Years ago, we played at an alligator festival while touring through Colorado. That’s right, alligators in Colorado! The park is able to raise and care for alligators from local hot springs water. Anyhow, the festival was a blast. While we were playing, there was an active alligator wrestling match happening in the background.”
Dean doesn’t experience nearly so much chaos and mania on his new(er) home turf, and fine by him. “Sycamore Den is warm and welcoming,” he opines when asked to name his favorite San Diego venues. “Black Cat is raw and homegrown, and the Merrow has the best sound in town.”
His favorite San Diego acts? “Nina Francis and Mike Pope both come to mind — skillful songwriters and unapologetically themselves.”
Dean’s new band Levi Dean & The Americats, just dropped their second album Free and Untethered, playing amalgamated punk, blues, classical, and folk. “The harmonica player, Patrick Mackey, and I met jamming at a backyard gathering,” relates Dean. “Patrick’s roommate, KC Kruger, who used to play bass for the San Diego punk band Ass to Mustache, eventually joined the band.”
“We then met our drummer, Lucho Cely, while playing at the SoNo Fest. Lucho grew up playing in rock n’ roll bands in Ecuador. Lucho brought in his Ecuadorian acquaintance and electric guitar virtuoso Nicolas Pachano. Our most recent addition is Madeline Skillman, who we met at one of our shows. She plays the accordion and sings silky harmonies.”
He credits the Rockies for his musical voice, and Nashville for teaching him hustle. He’s never left behind the folk music from his Southern home. San Diego though, he allows, “feels more diverse, and tolerant of art forms that don’t fit in a box.”
Levi Dean and the Americats to Release Sophomore Album
January 14, 2019
San Diego, CA – Levi Dean and the Americats are thrilled to announce the release of their debut album, free and untethered, on January 25, 2019 and will be available at online platforms such as iTunes, Spotify and CD Baby.
"Free and Unthethered" ALBUM RELEASE SHOW (live performance)
1/25 – The Merrow @ 9:00pm
1271 University Ave. San Diego, CA 92103
Article by Bart Mendoza of San Diego Community Newspaper Group 2/16/18
March 31, 2018
Anyone who is a fan of the local acoustic music scene has likely taken notice of Levi Dean. Either solo or with his band The Americats, Dean’s blend of blues, folk, rock and country has steadily won over audiences throughout the area, mixing traditional sounds with the contemporary; at times his songs are reminiscent of Dylan circa 1968, at other times they come across as radio friendly modern country. On Feb. 18, Dean will perform solo as part of the monthly Songwriters Acoustic Nights series, held at Holy Trinity Anglican Church. The night will also include Fast Heart Mart, Chad Taggart and Grayson Scheiner, trading songs and stories in the round.
Although now a veteran of the local club and festival circuit, Dean grew up in Virginia, taking a circuitous route to his new home. “As I got older I became restless and eventually followed the pull westward,” he recalled. “Throughout my 20s, I made stops in Tennessee, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Oregon and now, California. I took a piece from everywhere I have been.”
While each place has influenced his songwriting and musicianship, being so transient brought its own challenges. “In January 2014 I achieved a goal of long-term stability by securing a permanent job in San Diego as a park ranger and have been digging roots ever since,” Dean said. “Now, I have found great balance: a meaningful career and opportunities to pursue my passion for music in beautiful San Diego.”
Dean was raised in a family of artists and musicians, so it’s only natural that he’s wanted to be a performer for as long as he can remember. “My first instrument, which I received from my father at age 14, was a mandolin,” he said. “After my first music lesson, I went home and wrote my first song. This set in motion an obsession that carries on through today. Along the way I picked up the guitar, it is a more natural instrument for songwriting and feels more appropriate when playing solo. However, when I play with others, I always prefer the mandolin.”
He considers his love of Americana to stem from a mix of family and regional sounds. “I was inspired to play by a diverse group of musicians and songwriters including my father, Hank Williams Sr., Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and The Band,” Dean said. “Growing up in the South, I was also exposed to the deep roots of traditional American folk music of the region. Americana was a natural fit for me.”
In concert, Dean focuses on his own music. “Specifically, I write songs about paradox: the cycles of love, heartbreak and the spiritual hero’s journey we all go through over and over again. I play 95 percent original music, but will throw in a few covers. For example, the crowds enjoy ‘Hot Tamales’ by Robert Johnson and ‘Hey Good Lookin’ by Hank Williams Sr.,” he remarked.
For this performance Dean plans on debuting new material. “ I love the “Nashville Round” format because of its intimacy. I became very accustomed to playing this format during the year I spent in Nashville in 2011,” he said. Dean is familiar with all the night’s other performers, but he notes a special connection to Fast Heart Mart. “We’re good buddies, he said. “We have taken parallel paths. We are both from Virginia, spent lots of time in New Mexico and now call San Diego home.”
Dean and the Americats are currently recording, working on their second album with producer Andrew Nast of Audio Design Studios. Plans are for a late spring release. Dean equally enjoys live performance and studio work, his favorite part of playing music is in the interaction with other people. “I am passionate about collaborating and pouring different influences into the pot to see what comes of it,” he said. “Birthing a new song is the greatest feeling in the world and to witness that song have a positive impact on someone is pretty cool too,” Dean remarked.
Read more: San Diego Community News Group - Levi Dean to perform at Songwriters Acoustic Nights
Help Fund our New Album
April 21, 2017
Pushing On Promo
July 29, 2016
Levi Dean and the Americats
May 24, 2016
We are proud to officially announce the upcoming release of our new Album “Pushing On.” The official release date is 7/8/2016, but will be available online as early as 6/15. We would also like to invite you to our album release show that will be held at the Black Cat in San Diego the evening of 7/8. We hope to see you there.