Chuck Levy

Chuck Levy

 Gainesville, Florida, USA
BandFolkBluegrass

Banjo, fiddle, & akonting (ekonting). Prize-winning fiddler & Florida Banjo Champ, Chuck draws on his field work amongst the Jola of Senegal & Gambia, & fiddlers in Appalachia to connect the African roots of the banjo to minstrelsy & old-time music. He sings & plays traditional & original music.

Biography

“To call Chuck Levy a banjo player seems to be a bit of a disservice, akin to calling Wolfgang Puck a cook or Tim Tebow a guy who tosses a ball.” Suzanna Mars in Fresh Squeezed Florida http://gainesville365.wordpress.com/2010/08/23/chuck-levy-and-friends-and-friends/

Chuck Levy has earned the title of Florida's Old-Time Banjo Champion, as well as being a prize-winning Florida fiddler. Adam Hurt said this about his first CD, "Scratching and Clawing": “Chuck’s clawhammer banjo playing is intricate and engaging, but also consistently clean and tasteful throughout, a sort of ideal that many players seek, but few achieve. He demonstrates particular facility when playing a six-string fretless banjo and really makes the most of that extra low string, but his work is delicious regardless of the banjo used.”

Chuck’s second CD, "Banjourneys," was named as one of the best recordings of 2009 by Donald Nitchie in Banjo Newsletter. In a review of Banjourneys in the September 2010 issue of Banjo Newsletter, Adam Hurt says: “Banjourneys is a most interesting, stylistically diverse project by someone who is clearly devoted to his craft….Chuck Levy’s musical autobiography of sorts proves to be enjoyable and engaging throughout, and has already been worthy of many repeat listens for me. I am happy to recommend it, and look forward to hearing future musical journeys taken by this fine player”. Banjourneys was reviewed by Pete Peterson in the July-August 2010 edition of the Old-Time Herald, where he wrote: “What happens when an already good musician decides to broaden his horizons by learning more about the roots of the banjo and learns some tunes and songs from Gambia in the process? A CD as interesting and enjoyable as this one…I think this CD is an opportunity to follow some of the roads taken by a fine traditional musician (in several widely different traditions) who has found his own balance between honoring tradition and creating new music. Many of these roads I would never have found myself, and I am glad Levy showed them to me.”

About Banjourneys, Tony Trischka says: “Banjourneys is wonderful blend of banjo and fiddle voices drawing from old-time and West-African traditions, with a shade of cowboy music and the Rolling Stones too. The amazing thing is how well it all fits together; at turns haunting, lyrical, and loads of fun, neatly wrapped up in a Roz Chast cover.” 3.2010 Mac Benford put it this way: "Chuck displays an impressive range of
appropriate styles in his 'Banjourney', from the banjo's early African origins,
through its minstrel hall and mountain hoedown heydays, right up to the present
day and beyond. An exciting and enjoyable journey indeed." 4.2010. African banjo scholar Daniel LaemouAhuma Jatta says "Banjourneys is a great collection of music, a kind of roadmap of the territory connecting Jola music of Senegambia to old-time music in the US. The banjo and fiddle music is grand, but what I was really impressed with was the Jola songs. Chuck’s vocals are good, his akonting is strong and vibrant, and Mike Eberle’s fiddle fits perfectly. Perhaps this is what it sounded like at the beginning when Africans and Europeans first shared music. I highly recommend Banjourneys"5.10.10

Chuck is equally at home on 5 and 6 string banjos (five strings plus a short string), whether fretted or fretless, playing clawhammer and minstrel styles. Chuck also plays the 10-string banjo and the banjola. Chuck is also a respected banjo scholar who has visited Senegal and Gambia to investigate the African roots of the banjo. He learned to play the akonting (ekonting), a 3-string banjo ancestor, with Jola master musicians Remi Diatta, and Ekona Diatta. Chuck’s mastery has been recognized by Gold Tone, which has developed a 6 string banjo, the OT-6, to Chuck’s specifications (http://www.goldtone.com/products/details/w/instrument/373/OT-6) . Chuck is a past president of both the Florida Banjo Society and the Florida State Fiddlers Association, and co-directs the Suwannee Banjo Camp with Ken Perlman, and the Suwanne Old-Time weekend with Jim Strickland. Chuck is also active with the Center for Arts in Healthcare, Research And Education at the University of Florida as Chair of the Board of Directors. In 2009, Chuck was honored to receive the Thelma Boltin Award at the Florida Old-Time Music Championships. This annual award is given to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to traditional music in Florida. Chuck leads the string bands "Physical Medicine," "Fear No Weevil,” and “the Ferrets of the Mall” and teaches fiddle and banjo in Gainesville, Florida, and directs the Suwannee Old-Time Music Weekend and the Suwannee Banjo Camp www.suwanneebanjocamp.com .

Competitions:
• 2010: Florida State Fiddle Contest: 2nd Place
• 2008: Longleaf String Band contest: 1st place: Florida State Fiddle Contest: 2nd Place
• 2007: Florida State Fiddlers Convention String Band

Discography

Scratching and Clawing: Chuck Levy with David Forbes, Mike Eberle, and Bill Dudley: Red Dog Records #0, 2007

Banjourneys: Chuck Levy with Mike Eberle and David Forbes. Red Dog Records 001, 2009

The Best of Across the Prarie, Volume 2. WUFT Alive in the Studio

Set List

1 Dr. Levy’s Walk-Around
2. Belecha/Mariam Sajoe
3. Betty Likens
4. No expectations
5. Hangman’s Reel
6. Camp Chase
7. Si Jon Si Jamboukon
8. Walk into the Parlor/Walk into De Parlor/ Grapevine Reel
9. Sugar Hill
10. Old Joe Clark
11. Milwaukee Blues
12. Sembe
13. Shady Grove
14. Jimmy Shenks
15. John Henry
16. Mumbah Suditan
17. Old Paint
18. Sugarcane Dance/Levy’s Jig
19. Flames upon the Cuyahoga
20. Red Rocking Chair
21. Cumberland Gap
22. Rock the Cradle Joe
23. Boats up the River
24. Holly Ding/Rockingham Cindy
25. Oh My Little Darling
26. Little Billy Wilson
27. Big-Eyed Rabbit
28. Raliegh and Spencer/Boll Weevil
29. Iaydiay/Ohlibilal
30 .Stephen Foster’s Nocturne