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Levitate Music Festival Day #2 featuring Ziggy Marley

As with Day #1 of the festival, we found it impossible to see every band that was performing.  We were able to get to most of them, however.  Here’s a review of the bands we were able to see.

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Quinn Sullivan

Quinn Sullivan kicked of Levitate Day #2 on the secondary stage.

Quinn Sullivan is an American singer/songwriter/guitarist from New Bedford, MA. Born in March of 1999, Quinn started taking guitar lessons at the age of three. He first gained national attention when he appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres Show when he was six. He was famously asked to join Buddy Guy onstage during one of Guy’s performances in 2007. He’s continued to perform with Guy over the years, and has also continued to get media coverage through various outlets including The Oprah Winfrey Show and The Today Show.

You can download Quinn’s album Midnight Highway here.

Quinn was another big surprise of the festival.  When he comes out on stage, he looks more like a college kid majoring in business than a rock star.  The first song or two that he played were good, but then he went into a Jimi Hendrix cover.  He absolutely killed the guitar solo!  Everyone around us looked at each other in amazement, not believing that this crazy guitar work had come out of this kid!  He continued to amaze the crowd with his talent, including playing a song he wrote when he was 11 years old.  I don’t know about you, but I was definitely not writing music at that age!  His music is soulful and bluesy.  He is clearly someone to keep an eye on, as the level of talent he has is amazing.

 

 

Quinn has recorded three albums, with his latest – “Midnight Highway” – being released in 2016. Quinn will be out on tour for the remainder of the summer, playing various festivals and theaters. He’s worth checking out. You can find more information about Quinn and find his tour dates at www.quinnsullivanmusic.com.

 

Pigeons Playing Ping Pong

Pigeons Playing Ping Pong doing their thing on the main stage at Levitate.

Pigeons Playing Ping Pong formed in 2009 in Baltimore, MD. The band is made up of Greg Ormont (vocals, guitar), Jeremy Schon (guitar, vocals), Ben Carrey (bass, vocals), and Alex Petropulos (drums). The band has self-released two albums, including their latest – “Pleasure” – in 2016. The band has focused on building a following by touring (their fans are called “Flockers”) – they play around 200 shows per year consistently.

You can download the album Pleasure here.

Pigeons are definitely a jam band.  As I find with most jam bands, it’s sometimes hard to get into a live show when you aren’t familiar with their music.  The devoted “Flockers” love it, but for the rest of us, the songs start to run together and it’s hard to decide if it’s something you like or not.  The band is definitely a lot of fun and full of enthusiasm.  It’s definitely a great band to see at a festival or other live outdoor venue.

 

 

The band currently has a busy tour schedule in place through the beginning of November. Check their website at www.pigeonsplayingpingpong.com to see if they are coming to a venue near you.

 

Ripe

Ripe getting the crowd dancing on a Sunday afternoon.

Ripe is a funk/pop band based out of Boston, MA. The band met at the Berklee School of Music, and started making music within a few weeks of meeting. Led by lead singer Robbie Wulfsohn, the seven-member band features the traditional guitars and drums, along with a horn section.

You can download Ripe’s EP Hey Hello here.

Ripe is another band that I fell in love with over the weekend.  Robbie’s voice is amazing.  The music is fantastic, with the horn section adding that little bit of funk that makes their music so much fun.  They have great stage presence and really got everyone in the crowd dancing, even though it was the middle of the afternoon on a hot July day.

 

 

The other thing I really loved about this band, is that they are clearly into music themselves.  When Lake Street Dive came out to do their set later in the day, the band came out and hung with the crowd.  Robbie was dancing and singing right along with the rest of us.  The guys are truly humble and appreciative of the crowds and the music.  This is another band that I will keep an eye out for when they come to Philly.  I would love to see them do a full set in a small room.

The band has released three EPs to date. They recently toured with G. Love & Special Sauce, as well as appeared at various festivals. This is definitely a band on the rise, so catch them at a small venue while you can. They have just a handful of shows scheduled in July and August. You can find more information on Ripe at their website at www.ripetheband.com.

 

Trevor Hall

Trevor Hall playing guitar and singing for us on the main stage.

Trevor Hall is a singer/songwriter/guitarist based out of South Carolina. His music is a mix of folk, rock and reggae. Born in November of 1996, he recorded his first album at age 16. He studied classical guitar and quickly broke onto the scene by appearing in shows with several bands like Matisyahu, Michael Franti, and The Wailers.

You can download Hall’s album Chapter of the Forest here.

Trevor is also very into the spiritual world. In 2008, he moved into a traditional Hindu ashram and lived as a monk there when he was not on tour. In 2013, he decided to take a break from music and touring, and did an extended pilgrimage to India. He returned, and used his new found spirituality to inspire him to write music. He’s released several studio albums, including his latest – KALA – released in 2015.

Trevor’s set was a little lower key than most of the other bands that we saw.  His style of music is more about the lyrics and spirituality, and less about getting people to dance and have a good time.  He put on a great set.  He’s another act that I think is better suited to a smaller, more intimate indoor show rather than a large festival crowd.

Trevor is touring throughout July and August. You can find a list of his tour dates on his website at www.trevorhallmusic.com.

 

JJ Grey & Mofro

JJ Grey & Mofro on the secondary stage on Day #2.

JJ Grey & Mofro are based out of Jacksonville, FL. The band started in the mid-nineties when John “JJ” Grey and Daryl Hance began playing shows together under the name “Mofro Magic” in Europe under a UK record label. When the record deal fell through, they returned to Jacksonville and formed Mofro. The band’s music can be described as a bluesy rock, with a bit of a country twang to it.

You can download their album Brighter Days here.

You can definitely tell that JJ has been performing for a long time.  He knows how to get the crowd going, and looks like a total pro on stage.  While their style of music has a bit too much of a country twang for my tastes, I could definitely appreciate the talent level and the performance.

The band has recorded 9 studio albums and tours extensively, with a focus on festivals. The band will be touring throughout the rest of the summer, including a headlining show at Red Rocks in September. They will also be appearing with Gov’t Mule at their “Island Exodus 9” shows in Runaway Bay, Jamaica in January of 2018. You can keep up with the band by checking out their website at www.jjgrey.com.

 

Lake Street Dive

Rachel Price of Lake Street Dive closing out the secondary stage on Day #2.

Lake Street Dive was founded in 2004 in Boston, MA, when the band members all met at the New England Conservatory of Music. The band is made up of Rachel Price (lead vocals), Mike Olson (trumpet, guitar), Bridget Kearney (upright bass) and Mike Calabrese (drums). The band is currently based out of Brooklyn, NY and after years of touring has recently started garnering a lot of national attention.

The band started out when they recorded a song that Kearney had written, and they entered it into the John Lennon Songwriting Competition. They won the jazz category, which came with a cash prize and 1000 CDs. They used the prize to record their debut CD in 2006.

Since those beginnings, they’ve recorded several records including their most recent release – “Side Pony” – in 2016. They’ve gained popularity touring with other bands, including opening three nights for Dave Matthews Band at the Gorge in 2016.  You can download Side Pony here.

Lake Street Dive was one of the bands on the bill that made us decide to attend the festival.  We first learned of them when we found out that they would be opening for DMB at The Gorge in 2016.  After listening to some of their songs and finding we liked them, we heard they were coming to a small venue near us and decided to get tickets to the show.  We checked them out and fell in love instantly.

Rachel’s voice is one of the best around.  The other members of the band are equally as talented.  Often overlooked is Mike Calabrese, who is one of the best drummers around.  Not only is he talented, but he manages to do all of the crazy things he does on the drums in his bare feet!

Lake Street Dive opened up their set with “Bad Self Portraits”, and then continued through songs from their entire catalogue, including a few brand new songs.

 

 

A highlight for me was when they did “Side Pony”.  Trust me.  It’s one of those songs that will get in your head and you’ll find yourself singing it while doing your food shopping two days later!

They wrapped up their set with another of my favorites – “Call Off Your Dogs” and a cover of “Let Me Roll With It” by the Wings, followed by “You Go Down Smooth” which always gets the crowd clapping and dancing.  They went off stage and the crowd cheered for them to come back to do one more song.  Looking amazed by the crowd’s reaction, the band returned and gave us an encore of “Seventeen”.

Lake Street Dive has a full set of tour dates throughout July, August and September. You need to check them out if they are coming to a town near you.  Check out their website at www.lakestreetdive.com for more information.

 

Ziggy Marley

Ziggy Marley closing out the 2017 Levitate Music Festival.

David Nesta “Ziggy” Marley is the son of reggae icon Bob Marley. His mother is Rita Marley. His father gave him the nickname “Ziggy”, although Ziggy said in an interview once that he was a big David Bowie fan and he gave himself the nickname when the Ziggy Stardust album came out.

 

Being a child of Bob Marley, Ziggy grew up around music and began performing at an early age. He formed The Melody Makers with some of his siblings in 1979. After Bob Marley passed, Ziggy often performed with The Wailers in his Dad’s place.

Ziggy began performing solo in 2003, and has recorded a number of solo studio albums including the self-titled “Ziggy” in 2016. He’s also written a children’s book titled “I Love You Too”, based on a song of the same name from his Grammy award winning children’s album “Family Time”.  If you’d like to buy Ziggy’s book, you can click here.

Ziggy was another one of the acts that attracted us to this festival.  I’ve been to Jamaica more than a dozen times, and I have a love for the country and their music.  Of course, the Marley’s are a big part of that.  Ziggy performed with a full band of talented musicians, including his two female back-up singers who had amazing voices.  He ran through several of his songs, then went into Bob Marley’s “Stir It Up”.  At the time, I told myself that it was a great treat to hear him do a cover of one of his Dad’s songs.

 

 

After several more songs, I knew it was getting close to the end of his set, as he was scheduled to wrap up at 9:15 p.m.  Ziggy started talking about his Dad, and how it was the 40th anniversary of Bob’s iconic album “Exodus”.  Then Ziggy said he was going to play a few of those songs.  MIND BLOWN!!!!  He played “Jammin'”, “One Love” and “Exodus”.  Bob Marley is one of my favorite artists, and I never had the opportunity to see him play live before he passed.  On Sunday night, if I closed my eyes, it was like being transported back in time to the 1970’s and hearing Bob play this amazing music.

While the entire weekend was fantastic and we saw some amazing bands, nothing can top closing out the show with Ziggy Marley doing “Exodus”.  It will be one of those live concert moments that I keep in my memories forever.

Ziggy is on tour in the U.S. through the end of July, before heading to the UK for a couple of dates. You can find out about all of Ziggy’s shows, music, and other endeavors at www.ziggymarley.com.

 

Have questions or comments about any of these bands?  Comment below or e-mail me at tips2livebywriter@gmail.com. 

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Gorillaz

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