The Levins / Blog

Niall Connolly's album Super Fantastic Cool is just that!

In a wilderness of songs that scramble for recognition but offer no nourishment, Super Fantastic Cool is a refreshing stream of honesty and clarity. Niall Connolly is a prolific artist and is the real deal. I would say he was Frank McCourt with a guitar but he is Niall Connolly: International folk hero who already has his own tribute album of great songwriters from Brooklyn and Manhattan doffing their caps to him.

This album is a journal of renewed perspective set down as a warm boon bestowed on you by a friend. This is the artist receiving a gift of time, pared down to the essentials with just enough accompaniment from Warren Malone and Ryan Langlois to deliver the songs sweetly, letting the poetry resonate.

The first song She Makes Me Want to Be Clean sets the tone, is an invitation to hang out with the poet whose love makes him want to ‘Show my bright side, to be real’. At the first, I am smiling. “I like you, and I don’t know why.”

Johnny Cash. To hear Niall sing “I hear Johnny Cash died of a broken heart. A love like that, why the thing just tear you apart.” His voice breaks on ‘apart‘ and he is sincere, it makes me cry just hearing it. “And I ain’t expecting much from this beat up world but oh to have a love like Johnny Cash had for her.” This is pining at its best.

Your Idiot friend vs. 200 years of Darwin makes the hairs stand up on the back of neck. There is a haunting naked truth like young Dylan singing Hollis Brown or Who killed Davy Moore? “Here comes the genie with his wishes and his oh so tragic lamp. You better listen, listen, listen to the conditions attached.... I used to be a man of my word.” He captures the angst of every singer songwriter who has ever played in a bar with “You got to keep ‘em drinking boy, shut up and sing!” “These trophies to our freedom, won at the cost of love... I used to be a man of my word.”

When an honest man who has seen the darkness squarely sings of hope, it means something and you get that from this album, especially in New Year’s Resolution, “Now It’s gonna be a great year for everyone I know. With a new light from the East still reaching our window to wake us gently with a whisper, your time has come to glow. And the hopes you planted in winter. Hey, come and watch them, come and watch them, come and watch them grow.”

The last song All my Trials is a perfect closer with a chorus like a congregational refrain, freed from dogma and agenda “All my trials...soon be over.” “I got a little book with pages three and every page spells liberty. All my trials...soon be over.”

I’ve been going down the list of my favorite artists who deliver chords that resonate in my heart cave like Fleet Foxes, Iron and Wine, Patty Griffin, Beirut and Sufjan Stevens but the album I download next will be from Niles. Super Fantastic Cool is a musical book of poetry; a traveling companion to take with you. Ira Scott Levin of The Levins

http://blog.niallconnolly.com/ http://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/NiallConnolly

The Levins featured in ACOUSTIC LIVE IN NYC and BEYOND

Wowzers! So excited to be the featured artist in Acoustic Live in NYC and Beyond. Full article here http://www.thelevinsmusic.com/images/PDFs/the_levins_acoustic_live_nyc.pdf


We are getting very excited for the upcoming NERFA conference. Last year was our first year and we met great people, heard great musicians and learned a great deal about the business of being a musician. Our after midnight showcase schedule starts Friday night, Nov. 9th 12:50 Tribes Hill showcase: #1505 1:15 Richard Cuccaro's Acoustic Live in NYC & Beyond: #1421 2:00 Pie and Whiskey showcase: #1415 with Josh Joffen Katie Perlman,

And continues Saturday night after midnight, Nov. 10th

1:00 Acoustic Music Scene Showcase: #1506 with Mara& Terry, Friction Farm 1:30 Dynamic Duos (Friction Farm) Showcase: #1401 2:00 Java Love Midnight Café: #1424 with Hannah & Maggie

2011 Connecticut Folk Festival Songwriting Competition Winners!

A big thank you CT Folk! - it was a beautiful festival and music, environment, education...a great feast for all senses and sensibilities! It was an honor to open the evening stage for The Nields, Vance Gilbert and Leo Kottke and we are grateful to all the judges and those that helped to organize and coordinate the contest and event. www.ctfolk.com

Newark Peace Summit - Great energy!

We had a blast playing outside the Peace Education Summit in Newark, NJ. Such an energy! Local to Global topics of peace and understanding and making this planet a happier place to be from the point of view of the individual to the masses from the earth to energy. So many topics, so many speakers. Nobel Laureates His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Shirin Ebadi, and Jody Williams, as well as Deepak Chopra, Robert Thurman, Majora Carter, Marianne Williamson, Wade Davis, Rabbi Michael Lerner, Jeffrey Sachs....so many more! Phenomenal inspiration!

Thank you to all that stopped by to dance, sing along, smile and support. Check www.newarkpeace.org for further exploration and inspiration!

From Marianne Williamson, Sunday afternoon panel discussion: (paraphrasing...) "Don't get angry....be fierce! Marry the heartbreak of the suffering you feel from the injustice in the world with the excitement that you know you can do something about it. "

New Fleet Foxes CD!

New Fleet Foxes Album! Listening to the new Fleet Foxes cd in the car after playing outside of the Peace Education Summet in Newark during the lunch hour. We listened to the whole cd on the way down and it cleared me up like rolling down the windows in my heart. I have been waiting for it to arrive in the mail like it was a holiday at the end of the year. It was the same feeling of promise I used to get when a new Jethro Tull album would hit the stands.

The Fleet Foxes ' Helplessness Blues is packaged like a classic album shruk downwith the lyrics printed out on the inside as you open it up. I almost expected to see a seed in the spine. They even included a poster as in days of yore. Their sound is fresh but recalls day dreams of love from youth through the ages. Even with the poet Robin Peckhold at the helm leading the harmonies and playing guitars and an array of instruments, this is a real band. As Julia said, "there is no ego in this music." The sound comes from the collective bond of the whole group. There is something inherently natural in the sonic texture, even the cacophonous moment with the horns near the end sounds like wild geese.

Lyrically there is a venture into the depths with a light-hearted sense of discovery and spilling over...

" Everything that I see of the world outside is so inconceivable often I hardly can speak. Yeah I'm tongue-tied and dizzy and I can't keep it to myself. What good is it to sing Helplessness Blues? Why should I wait for anyone else?"

It seemed fitting that it was released by Chrysalis records in England*. Not only was that Jethro Tull's label but it sounds like a Chrysalis for artists making music.

*- It is on Subpop in America, home of Iron and Wine.

Quote of the Day

"Do one thing everyday that scares you." — Eleanor Roosevelt