Dear Havanah
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Dear Havanah

Boston, Massachusetts, United States | INDIE

Boston, Massachusetts, United States | INDIE
Band Rock Soul


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"Z88.9FM! DH airplay"

"This is ground breaking new music. They must be heard..." - Z88.9FM

""The Whole Way Home" Review"

Dear Havanah’s The Whole Way Home will knock you off your feet right from the first couple of seconds of the first song. As contemporary bands go, these guys can drive heavy hitting beats mixed with funky pop rock compositions. With prominent saxophone pulses and raw guitar play, Dear Havanah has something big to offer the music scene.

Their album The Whole Way Home represents the band respectfully as innovative musicians. With each song presenting a unique feel different from the others, their unique melodies and grooves will always be with the listeners. Lead signer Dan Htoo-Levine’s voice sounds like its right out of the 90’s alternative indie scene, a time when music sounded nostalgic to us, and still does. Together their music and lyrics deliver to audiences the easy livin’ rock and roll of today.

Special guests on the album include Nigel Hall and The Shady Horns of Royal Family Records. Hall is on the B3 organ through the entire album and Ryan Zoidis and Sam Kininger are featured on horn heavy songs such as “The Rain and Burn.”

All in all the album sweeps from heavy rock to bluesy rolling acoustic rhythms, to funky horn heavy grooves and in the end brings it all home with nostalgically pleasing simple rock and roll. Pick up a copy of The Whole Way Home, good for a road trip or any other occasion.

Check out their website at - Down to Your Soul - Emerson College

"Don Was on DH Drummer..."

"Mike Blong has a deep seated groove that swings like crazy! He's a bass player's dream…It was a gas playing music with him!" - Don Was (The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Elton John)

"Rodney Howard on "The Whole Way Home""

"Really like the rock-organ, horns vibe. Sounds old school without sounding dated" - Rodney Howard (Gavin DeGraw, Regina Spektor, Avril Lavigne)

"Alan Evans on "The Whole Way Home""

"This music is going to make a lot of people happy". - Alan Evans of Soulive

"Sold Out CD Release Show - Friday, September 24th"

It’s never a bad move to have Soulive’s Alan Evans produce your new album. It also never hurts to have a handful of Berklee-bred brethren lend a hand as your backing band. Most importantly, it always works well to have an entire new album translate seamlessly into a live setting.

After months of working on their new release The Whole Way Home, Dear Havanah returned to the stage with a voracious appetite for showing off their newfound funk chops. No venue was better for the band’s re-emergence than their unofficial home field, Berklee’s Café 939.

From the opening notes, the college girls flocked the front of the stage and the band came out swinging with the heavy energy of “Ninety Eight,” the opening track on their new album. The album’s single “The Rain,” caught fire with the crowd and was heightened by the work of the two-man horn section that supported the band for most of the night.

Dear Havanah has certainly come into their own as a live band. This time around, they appeared unafraid to stretch out 3-minute tunes to add room for some polished improvisation, and sounded tighter than ever in terms of tempo changes and transitions. The trio even found opportunities to incorporate some covers and teases including “Baba O’Reilly,” “Scarlet Begonias,” and the Stones classic “Gimme Shelter.”

Even more relaxed tunes such as “Nash” and “Ohio Sun” fit nicely into the set and let the band flex their growth as songwriters. The horns once again lent their two cents to the latter and although they aren’t featured on the studio track, their contributions calculated well in the overall result. The conveniently placed breathers in the set prepared the crowd for special guest Alan Evans who joined the band on stage for “Burn.” The funk was palpable from front to back as Evans locked in a solid groove with bassist Colin Healy and treated the crowd to a drum solo.

A climatic two-song encore closed out the night, the second song featuring guest vocalist Elise Hayes for a cover of “Gimme Shelter.” Hayes and Dear Havanah vocalist Dan Htoo-Levine complimented each other beautifully as the band put a poppy spin on the rock classic. The night proved to be more than just a homecoming for the band, but rather a graduation. The band has now moved on from their beginning stages as a college band to become the band that college kids listen and look up to. A new batch of tunes has earned Dear Havanah new fans and new opportunities; opportunities which they will hopefully continue to seize. - Allston Pudding

"Beatwire - January 2009"

"Dear Havanah – Acoustic rockers still having a ball"

What do you get when you cross a bluegrass-loving guitarist, a Dave Matthews inspired lead singer, a Ben Folds influenced pianist and a rhythm section dripping in the funk? You get the Boston based rock band, Dear Havanah.

The eclectic five-piece have celebrated a year of gigging, touring and writing their unique, witty and heartfelt tunes with the release of their debut album “Chasing Butterflies” on Veggie Co. Records.

This record, incorporating the best bits from the boys’ love of blues, jazz and pop, is a testament to the creativity that courses through the veins of this exciting new acoustic rock outfit.

The diverse musical influences and personalities of the group, honest lyricism and the basic wit of Dear Havanah has set the band up to make “Chasing Butterflies” the must-have debut album of the year.

Having met at Boston’s Berklee College of Music, Dan, Adam, Colin, John and Mike formed a band in the spring of last year and almost immediately began touting their musical vision around the town’s vibrant college scene.

Their infectious tunes and energetic performances quickly captured the Massachusetts public imagination and word quickly spread about the Dear Havanah sound.

They have now performed throughout the northeast of the country and hope to conquer the south later this year, no doubt with a successful album in tow.

Dear Havanah put their success down to the diversity of the tunes they offer on “Chasing Butterflies.” From upbeat rock to introspect acoustic ballads, there is something for every stripe of music lover on this record.

They were aided in their mission to show that diversity and eclecticism does not equal a compromise of quality by the fine production of Ted Paduck, who gave the boys the space in the mix to express themselves.

One listen to tunes such as “Relief”, “Back Around” and “Bring Me Home” – all destined to be mini rock classics – and you will surely agree that this is a combination of talents made in musical heaven.

But the main thing that makes Dear Havanah stand out from the crowd is the shear joy they so obviously take in doing what they do. “We have a ball on stage and really love what we do,” they say. “We are all good friends and even when we aren’t playing, we all hang out together, I think that comes across in our music.”

We couldn’t have put it better ourselves.

“Chasing Butterflies” is available now online.

- Beat Wire

"Branch Out Music Review - January 2009"

Dear Havanah’s debut Album “Chasing Butterflies” is a step into an open mind where your imagination can run forever. This album brings you the feeling of growth, inspiration and the sensation of something new.

Along for this incredible journey is that jam, roots, acoustic rock feeling that comes alive and grabs you from all different sides. Lead singer Dan Htoo-Levine singing from his soul with those soft but strong vocals conveying a balance between low and high. The album starts off slow with “Relief” but keeps your mind on the edge of its seat with powerful lyrics and an instrumental that tells a story of its own. The flow continues with “Back Around” a steady heart felt song that brings you a little bit of hope that, that special someone will comeback around in your life. Mike Blong starts this next song,“Bring Me Home” with some percussion followed by some acoustic by Dan and then every one joins in to make this recycled beat that keeps you foot tapping and the song becomes even stronger with Dan really pushing his vocals like sweet air in the sky. We all have those friends in life that we lose touch with, for whatever reason and we look up in this deep blue sky and sometimes wonder how they have been? And what they are doing? Well that’s what the next song “Carlos” is about and brings you a slow melody with some awesome key work by Adam Ciminello.

Time to kick it up another notch with a fast, jam, bluesy song called “Radiant Love”with an instrumental that will knock your socks off with Johnny Duke throwing a little solo on the guitar. “Meteors” is a beautiful song that has a nice continued flow and has that dreamy appeal going on in it. All of the members are really going at it in all parts of this song. “Chasing Butterflies” is a more fast paced melody that paints a picture in your mind with its deep lyrics and its light jazz feel, an upbeat instrumental that keeps you chasing butterflies in search for something different but not to far from what it already is. The bass is great in this song played by Colin Healy. “Burning World”, a relaxed song that has more of that “let it go”, feeling with a bunch of the members jamming to bring this song home. A song that helps you discover this world that we walk and that helps guide us to look at the simple things in life as some of the most important things. The last song on the album “Love Song” is any thing but a poppy “want to be with you” love song but a realistic love that is an example of true love with a soft instrumental and caring vocals with lyrics for you to read into that really lets you discover the inner core of what “Chasing Butterflies” can really mean but of course all music can be looked at differently.

This album gave me a great feeling while listening to it and made me look at things in my life closer and differently. This isn’t a one time listen to album but a stuck in my player album that I will enjoy listening to over and over again.

If you have never heard of Dear Havanah then please check them out on myspace and pick up their beautiful debut album “Chasing Butterflies”because it’s worth the price tag and will make you look at life differently with a brighter smile and an even more open mind. Thank you Dear Havanah for creating such great music and I can’t wait to catch a live show!

As of right now you can only purchase this album on ITUNES as the CD's are being pressed right now but times are changing, so go grab your copy on itunes for a digital download.

. download “Relief” for free!)

By: Ryan McKeldin

Branch Out Music

“Discover the Underground” - Branch Out Music

"Making Good Things Happen with Dear Havanah"

March 9th, 2010

Whoever said quality pop music is dead, well, for the most part, is right. But on February 20th at a sold-out Café 939, we witnessed a clear exception. Dear Havanah, a trio of Mike Blong, Colin Healy, and Dan Htoo-Levine hit Boston with a set of songs reminiscent of Matchbox 20 or Train with the improvisational energy comparable to the Dave Matthews Band or Blues Traveler. Backed by a keyboard player, a lead guitarist, and a two-man horn section, the band took their catchy, radio-friendly tunes to a whole new level and created something of a storm at Berklee’s cozy, student-run venue.

As the band is awaiting the release of their new album–which should be available this spring–they debuted a few of the new tracks from the release such as “The Rain” and “Ohio Sun.” The new selections seemed to stick with the band’s trend of catchy and soulful rock, but differed from their earlier originals by building upon their acoustic core and achieving greater, somewhat unfamiliar levels of energy. The girls who flocked to the front of the stage were able to sing along to familiar older tunes like “Bring Me Home,” creating a spirited atmosphere and, if that wasn’t enough, the band showed off their Berklee-bred improvisational skills during a cover of the Allman Brothers’ “Whipping Post” for their encore.

Dear Havanah did everything in their power to show that the heart of pop music still beats, drenching their infectious songs with tasty guitar licks, powerful horns, and rather impressive vocal solos.

I was able to catch up with the band before the show, and although these guys currently have a lot on their plate, good things are clearly on the horizon with the release of their upcoming album.

–Perry Eaton - TeaPartyBoston

"Dear Havanah - Chasing Butterflies"

I have been listening to this release over and over for the past few days and it gets better each time. The band is kick ass. Who is that drummer that is playing so in the pocket (Mike Blong). He just grooves me to death. The band has has really strong funk leanings sometimes sounding like Incognito’s best instrumentals.
When I first heard Dan Htoo-Levine sing I thought he sounded like Alison Moyet which is a compliment because she is one of most soulful vocalist around. She is a girl though. Then as I was listening, I was thinking “dang! has Shannon Hoon been re-incarnated?” I hear Lucinda Williams in the confessional songwriting as well.
These guys are from Boston, MA which surprised me because they have such southern soul in their songs.
I am hoping that they will be touring in the Los Angeles area because they sound like they would be one killer live act.
I am going to run down the songs because I think they are very special.
Relief - This is the single for sure. It has almost a Dave Mathews groove going on. Dan has a sound Mick Hucknall of Simply Red. Then the chorus comes in with a really sweet, tight harmony.
Back Around - this opens with nice Wurlitzer piano riff and just grooves my socks off. These guys are really tight instrumentally and vocally. Ok, did you guys go to Berklee School or what? This is a trully a sexy song that I am sure drives girl wild. I am singing along with this. There is almost too much good about this song to mention. Killer, tight guitar solo. This is my favorite on the CD.
Bring Me Home - Americana at it’s finest. My little dog was a dancing to this. She is my barometer for whether a song is in the pocket. It is. Lovely slide work man.
Carlos - Anyone who knows me, knows that I can be an emotional guy. Goodwill Hunting just slayed me. This song does that for me. So sad but beautiful.
Radiant Love - “You fuck me up” What a fucking great first line. if the Allman Brothers came out now, this is what they would sound like. The lyrics are brutal and sexy. The guitar slays (Johnny Duke, great name. Is that your real name). He really sounds like Lucinda Williams guitar player. He had that jazzy, country blues thing.
Hurricane - I play Mandolin, so I am really into it. Nice job Johnny. I am singing along on this one too. These songs have that quality that makes them stick in your head and they seem so familiar.
Meteors - Sorry John Mayer. This song kills Gravity dead. ‘Nough said.
Chasing Butterflies - Wow. Mike kicks this one like a good David Garibaldi Tower of Power groove. Jazzy, funky, my dog is dancing again. Ok, this could be the second single. Props to the bass player (Colin Healy). I am a bass player and guitar player and I am enjoying the shit out of these guys.
Burning World - Ok, This songs really sucks! Not!
Love Song - Just an all around sweet, sad love song. I really love the story Dan spins. The band kills.
So, have you booked a tour with Dave Mathews? Their audience would dig you so much though you could blow them off the stage if they are no careful.
Please go on their site and buy the CD or download all the songs! You will not be sorry.
Keith Kehrer - Kamakaze Music Blog


AUGUSTA, GA - Imagine coming home after a hard day’s work and collapsing on your couch after feeling the sting of your boss’ demands, the pain of your aching feet, the throbbing of that one vein over your right eye. That feeling right there is what you experience while listening to “Chasing Butterflies.” Specifically, it’s the feeling you get while listening to “Relief,” a soulful, acoustic piece of plush that massages your temples for you.

The culprits for such a comfortable array of melodies are Dear Havanah, a group based out of Boston, Mass. Acoustic rock, with hints of jazz, blues and pop cover this album from back to front. Their MySpace page asks, “What do you get when you cross a bluegrass-loving guitarist, a Dave Matthews inspired singer, a Ben Folds influenced pianist and a rhythm section dripping in funk?” The description alone encourages curiosity.

From the hip-shaking bluesy moments remnant of Blues Traveler (“Radiant Love,” “Burning World”) to laid-back acoustic pop remnant of John Mayer (“Back Around” “Bring Me Home”), this album is lovingly put together, and extremely casual. If you desire feel-good music with an added element of kicking back and flipping the cap off a bottle of beer, be sure to experience what the boys of Dear Havanah can do. - Metro Spirit

"Big dreams for Dear Havanah with debut album release"

January 30, 2009
Dear Havanah wants to be your friend.

In an age when so much rock music is steeped in cynicism and irony, it’s comforting to know a band that still seems dedicated to connecting with people and cares about its audience. “My dream is just to have our music impact people in a positive way, and why not extend that to as many people as possible?” says drummer Mike Blong.

Dear Havanah is a local pop rock quintet whose members include Brandeis junior Adam Ciminello (keyboard), and four Berklee students, Dan Htoo-Levine (guitar, vocals), Colin Healy (bass), Johnny Duke (guitar), and Mike Blong (percussion). The ensemble has close ties to Brandeis, having played several shows in Chums as well as on the WBRS live simulcast, the Joint. On February 12, the band will hold a release party for its debut album, “Chasing Butterflies” (Veggie Co. Records).

On Wednesday night I had the pleasure of sitting in on a rehearsal session at Adam’s apartment. What I found was a warm, laid-back atmosphere that mirrored the band’s vibe. The friendliness of the musicians seemed to underscore the sincerity of their mission to make music that appeals to everyday people.
“Our songs are about our relationships, our experiences in life,” explains Dan. “It’s the kind of stuff that people can easily relate to.” Statements like these are much-needed antidotes to the intentional obfuscation that has become almost de rigueur in certain circles of indie rock.

Ask the members of Dear Havanah to describe their music and you will probably get no closer to understanding the sound than by pressing the CD cover to your ears. Perhaps the band’s musical palette is so difficult to express because it’s so familiar to listeners. Evoking nineties alternative folk rock bands like Counting Crows and the Wallflowers, Dear Havanah is probably best understood as skillfully wrought pop music with rock instrumentation.
We could try to label the band’s sound and define it further, noting the easy funk phrasings that propel its melodies and structures that emphasize tension and release. But the most essential quality of the music is its accessibility. Pop music works best when melodies and motifs sound familiar and appeal to our prior musical experiences. This is Dear Havanah’s forte.

The album opens with “Relief,” a mid-tempo exploration of personal longing whose aching verses burst open into triumphant chorus of bright, harmonized vocals and guitar sprawl. This number serves as an excellent outlet for Htoo-Levine’s vocal styling, which call to mind a young Jeff Buckley.

“Burning World” is another highlight, emphasizing a steady driving rhythm and beautifully hummable vocal melody. Moreover, the song expresses a universal feeling of a youthful fear of change and growth. “One by one all my friends are leaving/pretty soon they’ll all be gone,” sings Htoo-Levine. The group’s ability to capture complex emotions in simple phrases is another achievement.

In the end, however, reading my words cannot effectively convey Dear Havanah’s mellifluous sound. Luckily, the album is available on iTunes,, or through the band’s website, Their myspace page,, also has updates on local shows. I’m sure you’ll find the band as personable and pleasant as I did.

Ain’t it good to know that you’ve got a friend?

- The Brandeis Hoot, by: Maxwell Price



"The Rain" - (2010) - Produced by Alan Evans of SOULIVE. Featuring Nigel Hall & The Shady Horns of LETTUCE.


"The Whole Way Home" (2010) - Produced by Alan Evans of SOULIVE. Featuring Nigel Hall & The Shady Horns of LETTUCE.

"Chasing Butterflies" - (2009)




Produced by Alan Evans of SOULIVE. Featuring Nigel Hall & The Shady Horns of LETTUCE!

"This music is going to make a lot of people happy" - ALAN EVANS (Soulive)

"Mike Blong has a deep seated groove that swings like crazy! He's a bass player's dream…It was a gas playing music with him!" - DON WAS (The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Elton John)

"Really like the rock-organ, horns vibe. Sounds old school without sounding dated" - RODNEY HOWARD (Drummer - Gavin DeGraw, Regina Spektor, Avril Lavigne)


Every band has a different definition of Rock n’ Roll. For Dear Havanah, it means a strong, soulful vocalist and a pocket heavy rhythm section garnished with screaming electric guitars, a whirling B3, and thick, funky horns. After over a year of writing and refining, Dear Havanah returned to the studio with producer and mentor, Alan Evans to record their new album, "The Whole Way Home".

The Boston trio, made up of Dan Htoo-Levine (Guitar/Lead Vocals), Colin Healy (Bass), and Mike Blong (Drums/Vocals), turned to Evans and his Play On Brother studio in search of a fresh perspective for the new record.

“Al brought the best out of us,” says Htoo-Levine on his experience working with Alan Evans. “He’s teeming with great ideas, and we’re all so proud of this record.”

Adding to the diversity of “The Whole Way Home”, Dear Havanah recruited special guests: Nigel Hall and The Shady Horns of Royal Family Records. Hall can be heard on the B3 organ throughout the entire album, while Ryan Zoidis and Sam Kininger are featured on horn heavy tracks, "The Rain" and "Burn".

After taking a brief break from touring in order to complete the new album, Dear Havanah is back on the road and has fans singing along across the country, tirelessly expanding their reach. Night by night, show by show, the band’s fan base continues to grow. Their honest, memorable, and well-crafted catalog mixed with their vibe-heavy concert experience has people anxious for more of Dear Havanah’s unique brand of Rock n’ Roll music.