levi petree

Live Review: Levi Petree at Trip Santa Monica in Santa Monica, CA

Material: More often than once, due to some serious songwriting chops, this artist makes you do a double take thinking you might just be listening to John Denver. The music is an eclectic blend. Petree does what a writer is said to do best––write what one knows, from the heart and staying true to his roots. With roots in Louisiana, Petree’s music does make some Cajun nods, while at the same time clearly seems to be influenced by a broad range of rock, country and even punk music. The addition of harmonica adds a John Lennon quality.

Musicianship: The bass and vocals are low at points, but the drum levels aren’t too overpowering so those issues are a minor concern. McKinsey and Novak are very in sync, clean and consistent. Together they bring down and ramp up tempos expertly. The group is joined by Guzman and Pennison, both members of Petree’s opening act, the High Life Cajun Band. Together they perform a medley of Cajun numbers including “Louisiana Saturday Night,” “Diggy Liggy Lo” and “Play Cajun Man.”

Performance: Petree is very in command, animated and stylized. This clearly seasoned performer is comfortable working the stage and interacting with his audience. At one point Petree seems to be challenged with his tuner and Novak wisely fills that time with banter. Together they work up their audience with hand clapping, feet stomping and tambourine. In particular for “The Rapture” they get the joint jumping with lots of stops and double timing.

Summary: While all aspects of the act are engaging and fun it feels like the set list could be broken up a little better between faster paced and slower tempoed songs. It felt like the Cajun tunes were bundled together toward the end, whereas integrating them throughout the set may have sustained the energy of the audience. It felt like “The Rapture” is really where the group could have left on a high note rather than reverting back to the initial pace of the performance. Given that this music is so lyric-heavy, having an instrumental section within the structure of each song might help with energizing the overall set as well as adding additional instruments to perform said solos, such as saxophone or keys.

The Players: Levi Petree, guitar, harmonica, vocalist; Chad McKinsey, drums; Sean Novak, bass; Ben Guzman, fiddle; Jacob Pennison, accordion.

Photo Ashley Ann Caven

Venue: Trip Santa Monica
City: Santa Monica, CA
Contact: lpandtherp@gmail.com
Web: levipetree.com