Worth the Wait: Levee Drivers Release New EP at Kung Fu Necktie!

For anyone lucky enough to be part of the packed house at Kung Fu Necktie for the Speakin’ Bourbon-Coated Blues release show on December 6, it comes as no surprise that there have been so many positive reviews of the band, the show, and the EP itself. Though fans have had to wait almost five years for more new music from the roots rock group, not a single listener was left unsatisfied on that rainy Friday night in December. (You can get a taste of the night’s celebration by downloading your own copy of the band’s brand-new EP, Speakin’ Bourbon-Coated Blues.) 

Levee Drivers friend and Toy Soldiers frontman Ron Gallo opened the show with a solo set, drawing the crowd from the bar to the stage with his uniquely honeyed voice and no introduction. While some solo artists might struggle to command a crowd’s attention, Gallo exhibited a remarkable ease throughout the entire set, weaving between songs with friendly audience banter and pizza jokes. His casual and friendly tone would prove to be the theme of the night, as more listeners filled the venue and more acts followed onstage.

Next to play was Philly’s oddest Americana act and perennial crowd-pleasers, the Lawsuits. The band capitalized on the warmth built up by Gallo, adding their own good vibes until the entire room was bouncing and swaying to their energetic set. Photographers wound around groups of merry music fans as the band helped establish the party atmosphere, playing songs included in their own recent album release, Cool Cool Cool. With the end of their set, the crowd was finally ready to welcome the night’s headlining group.

When the Levee Drivers finally took the stage, they did so to raucous cheering and applause. The anticipation that had built up throughout the night was released as the band (made up of August John Lutz II on guitar and vocals, Kyle Perella on lead guitar and lap steel, Jeff Orlowski on drums, and Ben Plotnick on bass) rocked through a range of songs, new and old, including selections from the brand-new EP. Friends, family, and avid fans in the audience danced and celebrated through the band’s entire set, culminating in a solo encore by Lutz, followed by a 2-song encore including the full band and the night’s other performers: Gallo, the Lawsuits, and singer-songwriter Chelsea Mitchell, who had joined the Levee Drivers on stage to provide backup vocals on a couple tunes.

At the end of the night, performers and audience alike felt like one very big, very weird, very happy family. The difference, though, was that this family had no mean uncle to shoot down the good energy of the night; instead, everyone in this family would be proud to proclaim that the Levee Drivers are officially “back”, even if they never really left in the first place.

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