James Leva
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James Leva

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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


Virginia-based James Leva is back stronger than ever. Comprised of recent Leva compositions, the music is a delight with a mix of Appalachian and Cajun flavors. I enjoyed "Fire Fire," "Baby-O," "Family Again," and "Old Jack Dog." I know it will get lots of radio air time. I only wish we had more copies for our radio DJs that are asking us for them. You get a copy NOW! - Country Western Corner / May 2005


Good Cajun and mountain musicians mean little if they don't have good songs, but Leva has come up with strong material, along with three fine instrumental tunes. The title song, which Leva sings in French, features a banjo riff inspired by a Malian balafon player and lyrics derived from a song improvised by his six-year-old daughter. "Family Again" expresses the hurt of a child caught up in a divorce. "It Must Be Good" features words of wisdom found in Colin Turnbull's classic book on the Pygmies of the African rainforest. `Til I Know is well worth seeking out. - Dirty Linen / December `05 - January `06


"This...will please even the stodgiest old-timey fan, while effectively seducing the masses that don't usually appreciate the adventure of traditional old-time music. [...] Memory Theatre is a recording full of dark beauty, and I give it my highest recommendation." - John Wolfe - CD Roundup


James Leva has always had a knack for combining the old with the new, of adding a sheen to the rustic. To some, this might signify a compromise, trading traditional old-time musical values to gain a larger audience. ... Just three cuts into 'Til I Know, it's pretty obvious that Leva -- a fine singer and solid musician -- is quite eclectic... 'Til I Know is much more interesting than the straightforward bluegrass and old-timey album that offers no more than fast and slow songs and ends with a gospel number. Leva and company have put together an engaging album that keeps traditional music alive by making it speak to contemporary listeners. - Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr., All Music Guide


"'Memory Theatre' is a magnificent project chock full of some of the most hauntingly beautiful and lonesome (...) singing and sawing I've ever heard. [...] 'Memory Theatre' captures the true essence of old-timey music, evoking images and wisdom from an earlier, ancient time-it's a deeply spiritual and moving listening experience from which I'll probably never recover." - Dave Higgs - host of radio's syndicated Bluegrass Breakdown (WPLN, Nashville)


Discography

Til I Know, Copper Creek Records, © 2005
Memory Theatre, Copper Creek Records, © 2001

Jones and Leva:
Vertie's Dream, Copper Creek Records, © 2000
Journey Home Rounder Records 0457, © 1998
Light Enough to Find My Way, Rounder Records ©1997

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

James Leva is a prolific composer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, whose virtuosity on fiddle, clawhammer banjo and guitar blends the melodies of the traditional Appalachian lands and their ancient descendants into one powerful musical vision. The poignant ballads of the southern Appalachians and evocative original compositions all find a musical common ground in James’ music.

James’ reputation as a master musician, singer and old time fiddler is embodied in his technical skill, eclectic repertoire, musical sensitivity, and innovative style. His journey of learning and musical enrichment has been greatly enhanced by study and friendship with many of his musical role-models, like Tommy Jarrell, Fred Cockerham and Doug Wallin. James works to retain the profundity and beauty of the ancient traditions he learned first hand while continuing to grow as a musician and writer in a new century.

The subject of feature articles in Sing Out!, Acoustic Guitar, Dirty Linen, Music Matters Review, James has been widely praised in the music press for his songwriting, fiddling and singing. He has played festivals such as Merlefest, Telluride, RockyGrass, GrassRoots, Strawberry, Live Oak and many others in the US, and the Tonder, Nyon, and Avignon Festivals, amongst numerous others in Europe
He has played in, written for, and recorded with cutting edge bands including Ace Weems and the Fat Meat Boys (with Chad Crumm), Plank Road (with Al Tharp of Beausoleil), The Hellbenders (with Bruce Molsky), The Renegades (with Richie Stearns), The Freewill Savages (with Al Tharp, Dirk Powell and Dave Grant), and as Jones and Leva with Carol Elizabeth Jones. One recent recording, Memory Theatre, features guitarist John Doyle (Eileen Ivers Band, Tim O'Brien Band). James can also be heard on recordings by other artists including Mark Schatz, David Grier, Kathy Kallick and Robin and Linda Williams.

In addition to his work as a performer, James is highly sought after as a teacher of the fiddle, banjo, and singing, having taught at countless festivals and music camps throughout the U.S. including The Swannanoa Gathering, the Augusta Heritage Festival, Summer Solstice Festival, and numerous others. James is a natural and inventive teacher, filling his classes with fun and encouragement while spreading his passion for tradition.

James' newest CD, "Til I Know", is now available. Co-produced by Grammy winners Sam Broussard and David Greely of the Mamou Playboys, it features 13 original songs and tunes. Musicians include David Greely, Sam Broussard, Kevin Wimmer, Mark Schatz, Larry Keel, David Winston and Will Lee as well as Danny Knicely and Kristin Andreassen, who perform with James Leva and Camp Mountain.