Levi Strom
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Levi Strom

Big Sur, California, United States

Big Sur, California, United States
Folk Alternative

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"If you think you might come to California"

If You Think You Might Come to California...
Writing by Stephanie Augello
Photos & Videos by Various Sources

Mike from the Henry Miller Memorial Library was awesome enough to point me in the direction of some bands local to the Big Sur, CA area.  So, here's a peak at a few of the acts working the indie circuit in The Golden State.

Levi Strom
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Oregon native Levi Strom describes his style as being a blend of folk, rock, country, new wave, jam and electronic; "heartfelt but bold, with gravity heavy lyrics and oddly catchy melodies."  He first appeared on the West Coast scene back in 2005, when he released his self-titled debut album.  After five years of songwriting, and another year of recording, mixing and mastering (in both Big Sur and L.A.), Strom released his follow-up album "The Lone Wolf" in September of 2011.  According to the artist's website, "Many of the tracks were recorded live, some right as they were being written...If you want a taste of the many styles Levi is capable of, this record will not disappoint...".


His new single "Songbird" was released this past December, and has been featured on the Stanford Soundtrack 2011 Compilation.  For those of you who live in the New York area, Levi Strom will be playing with Cave Country, who you'll learn more about in just a moment, at Pete's Candy Store in Brooklyn on Friday, June 8th. 
- Uncounted Circles


"Mac McDonald: Enough rain, I'm ready for summer, bring it on!"

Are we finally done with the rainy season? Can we start summer now? I know, summer doesn't officially begin until June 21, but for most people it started Memorial Day weekend.
One show that was affected by last weekend's rains will be rescheduled for this Sunday in Big Sur.
That would be Camper Van Beethoven's re-creation of its classic 1992 album "Key Lime Pie" at the Henry Miller Library in a show presentd by FolkYEAH! Presents.
Tickets from last Sunday will be honored, of course, and everything else remains the same. Doors open at 4:30 p.m., show starts at 6 and tickets ($28 plus service charge) are available at folkyeah.com or henrymiller.org.
As long as we're in Big Sur, there are a couple of other shows, Levi Strom and Cave Country at Fernwood Resort on Saturday night from 9 to midnight.
Just saw Levi performing for an art opening last weekend and he was in fine form, playing solo as well as accompanied by the sublime violinist Laurie Kost. More on Kost later.

By MAC McDONALD
Posted: 06/09/2011 05:29:30 AM PDT
- The Monterey Herald


"Levi Strom is the Lone Wolf"

Longtime Big Sur fixture Levi Strom—known for his chops as a folk musician and a head full of never-ending curls—will be releasing his first full-length album since his 2005 self-titled debut.
The appropriately-name The Lone Wolf, released on Strom's Vow Records label, will be available to all on Sept. 9 at the record release party at the Henry Miller Library.
"I spent much of the winter of 2010/11 in Los Angeles recording the material for The Lone Wolf," Strom expressed in a recent email. "I'm very proud of this record, and I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I did recording it. I had lots of friends play on the record including Neal Casal (The Cardinals, Chris Robinson Brotherhood), Trevor Beld-Jimenez (Tall Tales & The Silver Lining), Cave Country and violinist Laurie Kost."
You can pre-order a copy of the album, and check out a couple tracks by visiting www.levistrom.com
Below is a little nugget from Strom's diary of his recent European tour with folk great Kath Bloom:
My tour with Kath Bloom through Europe, now my 4th with Bloom, was nothing short of soul stretching. We really got in good with the English, playing to packed rooms in London, Bristol, Suffolk and Reading. We played in a castle in Spain in the small ville of Cardona just outside of Barcelona for a wedding party. After Spain I broke off from Kath and Jim and headed for Paris, where I was meet by local musicians for a late night jam session on my first night and over the weekend played an incredible roof top concert overlooking all of Paris. I can't wait to get back to Europe. I brought a few early copies of The Lone Wolf. I hear it's getting some radio play across the sea. Bon-Jour - Monterey Weekly


"“Oh what a night:” Levi Strom, Kath Bloom, and Melissa Underwood show review"

Despite the Indian Summer daytime temps out here in Big Sur (yeah, I’m looking at you Chicago), Monday night brought a fine wintry canyon-chill at the Henry Miller Library. Perhaps it was for the best. A fire was set, vinyl spun, wine flowed, the Christmas lights remained lit, and thirty or so souls squeezed inside the Library for a night of un-amplified, intimate music.

You see, last April, we demolished a wall – well, two walls – inside the Library, thereby really opening the space up. Makes you wonder why it took us so long to do it. And, having done it, the inside of the library is now quite conducive to indoor music. That’s just what happened when Melissa Underwood, Kath Bloom, and Levi Strom graced the stage/floor the other night.

Melissa kicked things off. She’s from up the road in Carmel Valley. Armed with her acoustic guitar and billowy cloud-like voice, she spun gentle, regal folksy tunes about redwood trees, reincarnation, and her two dogs. In fact, the set was bookended by two stellar originals, with a healthy dose of somewhat obscure covers (Curtis Mayfield, some folk singer from Minneapolis) thrown in. At the risk of belying a lack of imagination, I must say, she had the poised grace of, say, Joan Baez, with a hearty dose of breezy mysticism, not unlike Vashti Bunyan. It ruled.

Up next was Kath Bloom.

Kath, from Connecticut, has been performing and writing achingly beautiful songs since the 1970s, and she did not disappoint. To my virgin ears, she seems haunted, constantly looking over her shoulder for the tenacious, howling ghosts of lost love. (And who isn’t, after all?) Because of this – and also, more importantly, because of the joy and sheer buoyance that deceptively underlie many of her songs – she struck a powerful emotional chord with many listeners. In fact – and this is unprecedented, really – an audience member left a note for her, saying she’d never been so moved.


Kath had another guitarist, local fiddle maestro Lauri Kost, and other singers backing her up, and, upon prodding the audience to sing along, towards the end of the set, the place felt like an old-time revival minus the “you’re-gonna-burn-in-Hell” stuff. Good vibrations!!!

Levi Strom came up next. Levi is local-boy-made good, and has been on the road for almost a month now; first with LA-based Cave Country (who were in attendance and performed a few stellar, three-part harmony-rich tunes) and now with Kath.

Levi (see pic) weaved tremendously delicate, you-can-hear-a-pin drop, gravity-heavy tunes. Neil Young-ish, sure. Will Oldam-ish, ok, yeah. Townes-y, yeah, why not? But also quite original in a way I cannot articulate. There was a…riskiness. It was like he was walking a tightrope. The air was viscous. Only when he finished a tune could you feel like you could safely exhale. In fact, it was only a few minutes ago I just exhaled. It was a dare.

If I recall correctly, Kath came on afterwards for a few songs to take us home, and not soon after, that was that. We put some Marty Robbins on the hi-fi and shooed everyone out. It was a school night, after all – gotta be back at work and in the cube bright and early. - Henry Miller Library


"RIDER ON THE STROM"

Levi Strom’s approach to music is as spontaneous as his approach to life. A few years back, the 29-year-old decided to leave his job at a nonprofit in the Bay Area and head down the coast to focus on his true love: music.?

“The wind blew me to Big Sur,” Strom says.?

Strom began writing his own songs when he was 15, drawing inspiration from what he calls “the basics”: death, misery, human suffering, joy, passion, love and fun. His first album was done on the fly: He would pretty much hit record and play the songs as they were, without any do-overs or production polish.?

Throughout his time living in Big Sur, Strom has become somewhat of a local music fixture, whether he’s accompanying Little Wings at the July 4 Mother Hipnic at the Henry Miller Library or playing a solo set at Fernwood.?

The new year looks to be productive as he’s scheduled to record a follow-up to his self-titled debut. ?

“I’m approaching this album without having any ideas or conceptions about it,” he says. “I’ve been trying to go into the studio with a real clean slate and making stuff up on the spot.”?

So far, Strom has five songs recorded and plans to record another five before the album is ready for release. His gritty and raw debut – only 22 copies were released – ignites a spirit similar to Beck’s One Foot in the Grave. But Strom’s new material travels into territory featuring a much fuller sound, probably because he has Cave Country – who opens for him on Saturday at Fernwood – backing him on some songs. ?

“The first album was mainly acoustic guitar and some overdubs,” Strom says. “This one’s more electric and I’m playing the keyboard and piano a lot more. It will be more of a studio album.”?

Strom refers to the upcoming release as his Sgt. Pepper. After listening to one of the new tracks, “The Cave,” his mention of the seminal Beatles record makes sense. It’s grandiose, psychedelic and noisy but also holds an infectious melody; his reverberated voice sounds like he’s singing from a mountaintop. “Here I Am” is a whirlwind of surreal yet simple imagery – sung in an endearingly adolescent tone – that eventually grows into a sing-a-long guided by whistling. ?

Along with the new LP, the curly-haired folkster is also working with the Henry Miller Library on a 100 percent analog recording studio and an all-vinyl record label that will eventually release live recordings of bands that play the intimate venue. Strom plans on being heavily involved with the record and he’ll act as the lead engineer for the library’s recording studio.?

“It’s kind of a White Stripes approach,” he says. “No digital whatsoever; tape straight to vinyl.”?

Meanwhile, Strom is still glad he left his former nine-to-five existence up north for the majestic wonders of Big Sur and the life of a struggling musician. ?

“It was a shift and took me a little while to grow into,” he says. “But I have no regrets.” ?
- Monterey County Weekly


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

Photos

Bio

Oregon native Levi Strom has coined the term, “surf country”, to describe his blend of American roots music and West Coast surf culture. It’s also the title of his new record due out March of 2013 on Vow Records. For his latest, and third full length LP, Strom teamed up with country rockers, Sparrows Gate, visiting their home studio in Atascadero CA. “The music kinda wrote itself”, the songwriter recalls about recording with SG, “they have this cool house out in the country, with mules and chickens running around and during the day to take a break from recording we would go surfing . . . At the end of the day the music sounded exactly like that, surf country!” A mash of driving acoustic guitars, mandolins, and harmonica smoothed out by lush back up harmonies, reverby guitars and dreamy slide all provide the foundation upon which Levi delivers his signature heartfelt and slightly off-key vocals.
As a performer, Levi is best known for his ability to weave tremendously delicate, gravity heavy tunes, with a whimsical and unfiltered stage presence. He first appeared on the West Coast scene back in 2005 when he released his lo-fi, minimalist, self-titled debut record. After five years of songwriting Strom released his follow-up album “The Lone Wolf” in September of 2011. Levi has collaborated most recently with the likes of underground folk legend Kath Bloom joining her for U.S. and international tours through Canada, The U.K., Europe. Strom and Bloom have also joined forces on recording projects, including a live album from the Henry Miller Library in Big Sur. Levi has toured with Little Wings, The Blank Tapes, Cave Country and This Frontier Needs Heroes as well as appearing at the folk-yeah presents “Hip-Nic” music festival in Big Sur three consecutive years between 2008 and 2010. Levi has opened for Jolie Holland and headlined the Apple Pie Music festival in Big Sur 2010 and 2011.
Levi is currently living along the central California coast, surfing, finishing his new record and booking a National tour for Spring 2013. He is also writing the soundtrack for the upcoming indie short, “The Old Man and The Mountain Lion.”