Dean Station
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Dean Station

Nashville, Tennessee, United States

Nashville, Tennessee, United States
Band Americana Folk


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"Dean Station Reviewed by"

Written by Todd Beemis
According to the biography thoughtfully supplied by Albuquerque-based Dean Station with their eponymous album, the two principals -- Mr. Levi Dean and Ms. Amanda Trainer -- were to have been married in May of this year.

Assuming this happened, allow me to deliver to them a belated wedding gift: a candid and hard-hitting review of their music.

I loved this record.

If the future of their marriage is anything like the present sweet interaction of their voices on "Dean Station," then they better get ready to die old, happy and together.

Oh my goodness, where to begin? Well how about the delivery... the production is fantastic. The voices, mandolin, guitar -- hell, even a melodica -- jump right in a do their thing, all of them highlighted when they need to stand out and part of a fluid mix when they need to be part of the team. Far too many indie records sound like they were recorded inside a an empty Chock Full-O-Nuts can. Not this one.

Mr. Dean quite rightly name checks Robert Zimmerman as an influence and on rare occasions he gets a little too Bobby for my taste, but I swear it's only once or twice. The rest of the time, his sound ranges from old red hound dog bayin' to sweet country crooner to George Harrison and ultimately to what we can only call Levi Dean.

The (hopefully, by now) lady of the house is, like a treasured ingredient, used more sparingly. "Detonation" features her voice prominently in soliloquy, as does the album's closer, "Go Ahead," but its strength is shown throughout the record by its capacity to bend and form to Levi Dean's lead vocals. In fact, Trainer is a soft coating regularly affixed to Dean's rougher delivery. It's a winning combination.

Bugs Bunny may claim to have taken a wrong turn at Albuquerque, but on their new record, Dean Station have made all the right moves. -

"A Year to Remember"

For Dean Station—a new duo on the folk scene, featuring Levi Dean (guitar, mandolin, bass, and vocals) and Amanda Dean (guitar, percussion, vocals)—the last year has been a whirlwind. The two put roots down in Albuquerque, recorded and released an eponymous CD of original material, got married and went on a honeymoon, finished school (Levi: B.S. in geography from UNM) and
continued schooling (Amanda at TVI), planned and booked their first U.S. tour (first leg now under way), bought a station wagon (for the tour), and did their first interview with a fourcolor big-city magazine.
The two work closely on their songwriting, which has grown to about 60 original tunes. “He has a ton of songs that he had even before we met,” says Amanda. “He helps me out with my songwriting, because I really am very new at
all this stuff.” “I don’t do anything without getting her OK,” says Levi, noting, deadpan, that he’s just
learning that this approach works as well with domestic life as with songwriting assistance. Introspective and poetic, with roots in folk, rock, and blues, their songs leverage engaging two-part harmonies that contrast their distinctly different vocal styles. Levi’s wizened voice conjures images of a crabby prophet (“He is,”
says Amanda), while her clear, honeyed tones suggest an attending angel.
Catch their heaven-and-earth harmonies in town next on August 6 at Sol Arts (712 Central
SE; 244-0049). Get a complete schedule and contact information at - Albuquerque The Magazine

"Raising the Root at the Station"

By Doreen Manning

Love at first note? That may be what the Dean's tell their grandchildren someday, as the seeds for Dean Station was born in 2004 when Levi and Amanda Dean (then Trainer) first sang together in Albuquerque, NM.

Recognizing how seamlessly their distinctive voices fused within a melody, a creative and romantic relationship blossomed, and the birth of a new progressive acoustic duo was born.

Dean Station is made up of Amanda Dean, 26, on guitar, keyboard and spoons, and 24 year-old Levi Dean offering up mandolin, guitar, bass and fiddle. With the recent addition of Charlie O'Neal on percussion, the couple has rounded out their sound as they hit their musical stride on tour this summer. According to their bio, Amanda considers herself more of a poet than a songwriter, and credits Levi with helping her turn her poetry into music.

Both have been playing music since they were young, with Levi being nurtured within a family of songwriters and artists, playing and writing his own tunes since he was a teen. Their original music draws heavily on a folk, roots and bluegrass tradition, but with an ear toward a more contemporary sound.

The past few years have been quite a whirlwind for the group. In March of 2006 they released a self-titled album and hit the road for seven months of touring to support its debut. In the middle of the tour they took a break to tie the knot, and after the tour they relocated to Colorado. Keeping the buzz going, the prolific couple just released Raising the Root, this past July.

Taking the grassroots approach to marketing their sound has been a challenge, says Amanda, but so far, so good. "It takes a while to get the ball rolling, and then when it does, it won't just keep moving on its own, you have to be right behind it nudging it and guiding it, or the ball will stop," she says. "I do all of our booking and take care of the business end of things. Levi and Charlie have jobs back in Colorado and almost every day after a full day of work, they come home and play music. I spend my days working 9 to 5 at home booking and getting whatever publicity I can get us. We work so hard. This is our dream and the only way to make it happen is to put hard work into it."

So far, the tour has been one of warm receptions and brisk CD sales. "The response has been fantastic," shares Amanda. "We have been playing a lot of radio gigs, and when we do, we do a CD giveaway to get a feel for what people think of our music and how many people are listening."

I just had to ask this young couple, who seem so thankful for the opportunity to perform, what has been the coolest thing to happen on tour so far?

"Man, that's a hard question to answer," says Amanda. "We spend our days traveling, swimming in rivers, seeing sights, fishing, hiking, meeting all kinds of people -- and our nights playing music either at a gig or with friends and family. Just the way we get to live our lives right now is the coolest thing ever."

- The Lowell Sun

" Review"

"We've been listening to Dean Station's album, "Raising the Root", for a few weeks now. The reason is that when the CD began with its opening track, "Feather", we were hooked. Whether its Levi Dean's Dylan-esque phrasings, the easy groove of the percussive heavy acoustic track, or the natural complementary harmonies from vocalist, Amanda Dean, the total effect was immersion. At the basic level the Deans pay respect and considerable updated energy to the folk/poet/artist of the 60's and 70's in this organic and sincere record, "Raising the Root". Helped out here by percussionist Charlie O'Neal, along with bassist Doug Deforest, the result is a breezy and deep recording that marries open rhythmic vocal interpretations of poetry with a mandolin-full nearly bluegrass canvas. The delightful fusion is pop/bluegrass/blues/folk. The CD flows with a bluegrass Layladylay love and moves with the raw and innocent quality of a living room jam while the lyrical content covers mature and poetic indie real estate. The opening track paints ala American Beauty, 'we just want to know what's going through your mind, show us a sign, so he points to a feather floating in the wind'. The Deans are story-tellers. Track 2 continues in that fashion with "Go Ahead" as Amanda uses her country clean and strong vocal describing a couple who, 'together like Bonny and Clyde they steal across the west searchin' for something greater than life's great test'. The marriage of the Deans' voices is a contrast in ironic perfection - Levi's Dylan to Amanda's June Carter - and the result is a unique quality that singularly identifies the sound - and it's in that establishment that Dean Station finds its own home." -

"Acoustic - Folk: Under The Lights - Dean Station"

How do you capture influences like Led Zeppelin, Talking Heads, and Fleetwood Mac and roll them through the historical sounds of bluegrass? Well, you create Dean Station, which incorporates into their sound a full drum kit, keyboards, electric guitar and mandolin.

“Our music offers many diverse styles but still draws from our strong folk foundation,” describes Levi Dean.

Amanda caught the ‘”Dean Boys” (previously made up of Levi and his brother Andy), playing one night and was “…blown away by [their] talent.” Amanda had been actively pursuing a career in music and informed Levi she was quite a crooner. She asked Levi to instruct her on the guitar and she in turn would sing in his band. “Oh yeah, we also fell in love, got married, and took off on a seven month tour!”

A friend introduced bongo player and drummer Charlie ONeal to the Deans and completed the three-piece “newgrass” ensemble. “Playing for Dean Station takes being a lot more intricate than I think I’d have to be if I were in a less blues-y folks-y type of band.”

Amanda Dean, superb vocalist, guitarist and professional spoons player notes that it was her father who taught her to play the spoons. Levi convinced Amanda it was interesting and not silly, and wanted to incorporate them into their sound. She did and people love it. “My dad also taught me how to Hambone, but I don’t know if we will be incorporating that one anytime soon!”

- Colorado Music Buzz Magazine

"Pop Culture Uprising"

Dean Station reviewed by the Taos Daily Horse Fly
By Dory Hulburt

Former Taos resident Levi Dean and Amanda Trainer have collaborated as Dean Station and released a self-titled CD combining his talents on the mandolin and bass, hers on percussion, and both their gifts with guitar and vocals. A Virginian, Levi grew up in a family of songwriters and artists. Aside from his family, his influences include Hank Williams, Sr., Bob Dylan, and Neil Young. Amanda, who hails from the San Francisco Bay area, moved to New Mexico in 2001 to pursue a career in fine arts. With influences like Tracy Chapman, Tori Amos, and Billy Joel, she considers herself more a poet than a songwriter, but credits Levi with helping transform her poetry into music. Amanda’s pure, fine clarity complements Levi’s nasal, sandpapery vocals in an effective two-part harmony with vibrant undertones harkening back to bluegrass, folk, and country roots. The couple, who wrote all the music and lyrics together, plans to marry next month. Find out more about the CD, and numbers including “Anybody’s Guess,” “Flat Footin’ Girl,” and “Friendly Fire,” at
- Taos Daily Horsefly

"Living The Dream"

While sitting in an apartment in Albuquerque, N.M., three years ago, Amanda Trainer got her first glimpse of Levi Dean’s creative song-writing ability. When she began to sing with him, their distinctly different voices fused, and the two realized they might be onto something.
That moment was the birth of Dean Station, a husband and wife “folk-Americana-bluegrass” band now based in Castle Rock. Since that time, the couple has worked tirelessly to create an inspiring collection of songs with calculated vocals and a variety of instruments, like the mandolin, bongos, spoons, fiddle and even some original instruments made with everyday objects.
Dean Station recently completed a seven-month nationwide tour out of the back of their gold Ford Taurus station wagon with dog, Bonnie, in tote. The three have shared cans of soup warmed on the car’s dashboard, and they have shared heart-wrenching moments.
The summer tour to promote their self-titled debut album followed a path through quaint, countryside towns. They camped or slept in the rear of the station wagon, except on two occasions when the host venue paid for their hotel accommodations.
“We’re foregoing the comforts of home to live out our dreams,” Amanda said.
Levi, 24, and Amanda, 26, are still promoting their first album, but are working on new material for an album they hope to start recording in the fall. They are incorporating more percussion, plus a few unique instruments, to emit a fuller sound and “keep people’s attention,” Levi said.
Levi grew up playing music with his family in his home state of Virginia, and Dean Station’s sound is heavily influenced by the style of music that rises from the region. He later moved to New Mexico and formed a band with his brother called the Dean Boys, but the group disbanded because of the long driving distance between them.
Amanda admits she was “enamored” after meeting Levi through a mutual friend and seeing him play music. She first picked up a guitar at the age of 11 at the urging of her mother, but meeting Levi re-sparked her interest and motivated her to learn the ins and outs of the versatile instrument.
Levi sings in a self-described raspy voice, while Amanda’s singing carries a more soothing and sultry sound. But the collective power of their harmonizing voices, combined with the imaginative, if not rural, sound of their instruments, continues to impress audiences who crowd into coffee houses and festivals across the country.
Amanda and Levi’s journey, however, has not been without its share of adversity. Shortly before embarking on their summer tour and while shooting photos for the band’s Web site, Bonnie was shot in the side by a pellet. The couple never found the culprit who shot their Labrador-Pomeranian mix, but they were forced to pour their tour savings into saving their dog. The tour was nearly cancelled, but they quickly scraped some money together and received financial support from family.
The duo draws their inspiration for songs from a broad selection of life topics, from domestic squabbles to family troubles to touring through towns with only one stoplight.
After meeting Amanda, Levi wrote a song that expressed his frustration over the fact that she was involved with another man. She later broke up with her boyfriend, and after a brief courtship, Levi asked Amanda to marry him the best way he knew how: in song. He even skipped his college graduation ceremony to attend the wedding, but has no regrets because he still walked away with a bachelor’s degree in geography. It will be called on as a fallback, if ever the need arises.
The beginning of their whirlwind romance showed itself as the perfect opportunity to write new material. Despite its intimate meaning, the couple does not mind playing the song in which Levi proposed in front of a large crowd.
“When you fill the music with passion, I think it really comes across to the audience,” Amanda said. “People are attentive to the feelings of the song and the emotions that go along with the words.”
Levi Dean, who credits his dad and brother for inspiring his interest in music, likes to write songs that have a story, like the one he recently penned about a cast of characters in a burlesque show. Either he or his wife will tell the tale behind each song before playing it to a crowd.
Amanda Dean turns her poetry into song lyrics. Her musical influences include Tori Amos, Fleetwood Mac and Tracy Chapman. She secretly loves Billy Joel’s musical catalogue, although her husband is reluctant to let that tidbit be posted on the band’s Web site,
The band has drawn comparisons to the youthful bluegrass group Nickelcreek, but Dean Station’s sound is unlike any other out there. It has piqued the curiosity of disc jockeys who spin country and bluegrass records and has led to increased radio play. Grassroots promotion often proves to be difficult, but the couple has managed to spread the word about their music and were even featured in an article for Albuquerque The Magazine.
The husband and wife team is now seeking a booking agent to help schedule regular gigs across the country. They recently advanced in a talent contest on an AM radio program on 630 KHOW called The Greg Hollenbeck Show. Dean Station stands out from the other contestants, which include hip-hop artists and a range of other musicians.
The band is also playing shows around Douglas County this month, including gigs at the Java Guru in Castle Rock on March 24 and the Parker Library on March 31.
The road to relative success has not been an easy one, and there is no telling what the future holds for the band, but the experience has already been worth it. The couple simply wants to be able to make a living off playing music for people. They don’t seek fame and fortune, but if it comes, it will certainly be welcome.
To borrow a lyric from a Dean Station song that preaches courage in the face of adversity: “When the sun breaks through them clouds/What’s going to happen is/Anybody’s guess.”

Contact Chris Michlewicz at 303-841-5497 or
- Colorado Community Newspapers


Dean Station, 2006
Raising the Root, 2007
Quarter of a Century, 2009



Levi Dean, 27, was born into a family of songwriters and artists. He received his first mandolin from his father when he was a teenager, and, as a self-taught musician, has been playing and writing music ever since. Levi grew up in Virginia and went to school in the Appalachian Mountains. There, he played in a progressive bluegrass band called The Blueweeds. He moved to Taos, NM, in 2002 where he formed a band with his brother aptly named The Dean Boys. From 2004 to 2008, Levi collaborated with Amanda Trainer as Dean Station. Currently, Levi resides in Santa Fe as a solo singer/songwriter, playing music with a combination of musicians that come together as Dean Station for live performances. Levi's style is influenced by a diverse group of musicians ranging from Hank Williams, Sr. to The Band. Dean Station has completed three U.S. tours to promote their debut eponymous album in Dec 2006, their second album "Raising the Root" in Aug 2007, and most recently "Quarter of a Century" in May 2009. During the summer months, Dean Station is very active in the festivals scene in the Rocky Mountain west.

Notable festivals to their credit include: The Santa Fe Traditional and Bluegrass Festival in Santa Fe, NM; Wild Life West in Edgewood, NM; the Larimer and Arapahoe County Fairs in CO; South Park Music Tour in Fairplay, CO; Summer Solstice Festival in Golden, CO; and The Tucson Folk Festival.

-Gold artist Award (
-Finalist for the “I Got Skills Greg Competition” (Denver, CO)