By Rick Coates
If you ask singer/songwriter/guitarist Levi Britton about his life, he
will tell you that he has the best of three worlds and soon plans to
have the best of four worlds. Britton took home the Best Solo honor in
this years Readers Poll, but despite his win in the solo category
Britton is known for his band work as well. In fact, last week he was
in Chicago rehearsing with his band mates Down The Line for their much
anticipated new release Open The Door. They held a CD release party at
Chicagos Lincoln Hall and the group is putting the final touches of a
major summer tour.
I really do have the best of all worlds right now, said Britton. I
am in this amazing band Down The Line and we have been together for
nearly 10 years. it has been a great ride and it is still going.
Britton was part of the first graduating class of Traverse City
Central in 1998. During his high school days he was in a local band
Eternal Circle, after graduating he headed to Kalamazoo not for
college but for a short musical pit stop before heading to Chicago. In
the Windy City Britton met up with percussionist Kris Myers and they
formed Blue Logic, the band built a following but Britton broke away
to form two other bands and Myers went on to form Umphreys Mcgee.
Brittons two new bands would eventually fuse together to form Down
The Line and along with Umphreys anchored the Chicago jam band scene.
Down The Line has toured nationally opening for America, the Gin
Blossoms and Peter Frampton.
It was pretty cool being on the Frampton tour and coming to play in
my hometown at Interlochen, said Britton.
America really took a liking to us and we plan to do some dates with
them this summer and there are some other big shows in the works but
the ink is still drying so Im not allowed to say anything yet.
But what about a Northern Michigan show?
Yes that is definitely in the works, said Britton. I cant wait to
introduce this new music to my friends here in Northern Michigan, this
is definitely our best songwriting effort to date, we are very pleased
with every aspect of it.
The new CD was produced by three-time Grammy winner Glenn Rosenstein
(Peter Gaberial, James Taylor, Ziggy Marley, Talking Heads and the
25th Anniversary Saturday Night Live Soundtrack).
Joining Down The Line for the CD was percussionist Chad Cromwell who
got his start as Joe Walshs drummer and is currently Neil Youngs and
Mark Nopflers drummer. The album was mixed by the legendary George
Massenburg who has worked with a whos who in the industry including
Frank Sinatra, Neil Diamond, Journey, Linda Rondstant and Phil Collins
to name a few.
I am also happy to be in Levi & The Good Boys, said Britton.
Basically we are a full band extensionof my solo work. I have great
musicians in the band and they all are in other projects. We only get
together once a month or so. I want to make each show special so we
just dont play out much.
so, world one being in two bands, it sounds like that is going well
and world two must be solo work?
Yes my solo work, I love it and what I like is I get to be me all the
time on stage, said Britton. Look, I like my bands and it is great
performing with world class musicians but the solo work affords
different opportunities to express myself. I dont have to worry about
what I say or play. it is just me up there.
Britton is keeping busy around Northern Michigan with standing weekly
gigs at Kilkenneys, Union Street Station and the Sail Inn.
I am gigging out three to five times a week and feel fortunate even
having gigs three nights in a row in Traverse City. in the middle of
the week people fill these places up, said Britton.
I even have a sort of an odd approach; I use the live stage
essentially as my experimental studio. I take songs that are not
finished and try and finish them on stage, it is pretty cool and fun
and the audience seems to groove on it.
So what is that third world that he has the best of?
I get to live in Traverse City. Look I travel all over the country to
play music and see a lot of towns and Traverse City kicks ass compared
to anywhere else, said Britton. This is the best damn little big
town in America. I am looking forward to raising my family here.
I am getting married to Krissie Twomey, who owns Krissies Creative
Gems on Front Street in Traverse City, said Britton. We are getting
married this July, so that will be my fourth world and we are going to
raise our kids here in Traverse City.
So who is the band for the wedding?
Not going to have a band. I am having a DJ, said Britton, He is a
family friend and has done other family weddings.
That comes as a shock, a guy about live music is choosing a DJ, why?
Sure I could get all sorts of musicians to perform and people have
volunteered but then I would be expected to get up on stage and play
all night, said Britton. This is my wedding, I do not want to work
it, I want to enjoy it. The DJ is bringing a Karaoke machine for later
in the evening and I know my brother Seth who is the superintendent at
The Bear and better singer then I am and he is going to sing a couple
of songs. I am sure that I will sing a song or two as well.
Britton said that Down The Line is primarily going to be just weekend
warriors between now and summer so he plans to continue his Traverse
City gigs for the time being. Catch him Tuesday night at Kilkenneys,
Wednesdays at the Sail Inn and Thursdays at Union Street Station. To
hear a sampling of Brittons work with Down The Line and to keep tabs
on their tour, check out downthelineband.com.
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