I am very pleased to write about the latest CD by Levi Kreis. It’s called “Live @ Joe’s Pub,” and that’s a NYC venue. He’s now in L.A. working on his next studio album, but this live one sure whets the appetite for more.
It’s full of songs from his recording career, and I’ve been following him from the beginning. Accordingly, my own collection of his work includes some material not mentioned on his website. Yeah, I know, this will drive some of his fans crazy, but hey, being a faithful follower has its rewards. And many of those fans will scratch their heads at the first CD in the grouping below, “Rough Around the Edges: Live at Genghis Cohen.”
I love to tell about first meeting Levi. I was in L.A. in the summer of 2002, visiting my co-producers for the radio show Audiofile. We went to see a production, at the Zephyr Theatre, of the Del Shores play “Southern Baptist Sissies.” Levi was not in the cast but during the show he came out and sang the song “Stain Glass Windows,” which was terrific, as was the play itself. On the way out of the theatre Levi was doing a meet-and-greet, selling his CD, and of course I bought a copy and we chatted a bit. “Rough Around the Edges: Live at Genghis Cohen” was a very homemade CD, and I loved that it contained some very unabashedly gay songs, like “Queer Boy.” It was very self-distributed and I doubt it was even ever mentioned on his website.
In 2005 he released “One of the Ones,” and I was blown away and now a serious fan. I think he’s been the only artist that I’ve interviewed three times…his interviews are Just That Good, as is his music. You can find them on my Queer Music Heritage shows for January 2006, March 2007, and June2009. “The Gospel According to Levi” from 2007 was another jump in his material, very personal and not to be ignored. And also that year he released some of his older material, in the digital CDs “Bygones” and “Live at Genghis Cohen.” And the studio album “Where I Belong” came out in 2009. As I said, I was now a fanatic collector, hence the grouping of releases shown below.
A CD just called “Bonus CD” was pressed in 2007. This was material recorded for Atlantic in 2005, and that album never happened. But as I’d built up a connection with Levi by then (and it doesn’t hurt to do radio), he sent me the CD, with the “not for airplay” condition. Next is the compilation “Peace from the Porch, Volume 2,” from 2006. This was a benefit CD produced by my friend Christy Claxton. Volume 1 raised money for the American Cancer Society, and Volume 2 funds would go to causes combating domestic abuse and violence. I got to hear an early pressing and realized that many victims are also men and I knew just the track that should be included. I contacted both Christy and Levi and introduced them through the internet, and a wonderful, but obscure track by Levi called “Man Outta Me” was received in time to make it on the CD. It’s the only place it can be heard.
The Sony Corporation in 2007 had a short-lived campaign to promote the music of GLBT artists, and released “Music With a Twist: Revolutions.” It an excellent CD, and introduced to me a song I am crazy about, “Jesse,” by Ivri Lider. But Sony barely marketed the project and no more efforts resulted by them. It contains Levi’s track “I Should Go.” In 2009 Levi guested on two tracks on an album by his friend Darci Monet, and also on a track (“Masquerade”) on an EP with Canadian artist Matthew David. Oh yes, in 2008 he and Debbie Holiday released a single called “Yes We Can,” in support of President Obama’s election campaign. Levi was then devoting his efforts in the off-Broadway production, in Chicago, of “Million Dollar Quartet,” in which he plays Jerry Lee Lewis. The show made it to Broadway and in 2011 Levi took home a Tony Award for Featured Actor.
And with a bit of vanity, below is a shot of myself with Levi Kreis and Eric Himan, when they did a joint gig in Houston, in March of 2006. And below it, well, I not only collect Levi’s music but when I see an internet pic of him I like, I grab it, hope he doesn’t mind.