“Time has told me not to ask for more, someday our ocean will find its shore,” Folk icon Nick Drake once wrote in a song, and that’s exactly the journey one of his songwriting descendants, Avery LeVine, has taken in his own path as one. Drawing on influences from both sides of the Atlantic that define his pedigree as a tunesmith, LeVine explains that “Andy Irvine and Dick Gaughan really sparked my interest in the wider range of folk music. They both covered Woody Guthrie’s ‘Tom Joad’ and that started me down this path. Along the way I’ve taken influence from 60s revival Folk and Folk Baroque artists like Martin Carthy and Planxty, along with American artists like Phil Ochs and a psychedelic tinge of The Incredible String Band and Robin Williamson’s work as a solo artist, and more recent artists like Abigail Washburn, Gillian Welch, and Elliott Smitt.”
Striking his own unique chord with the Millennial generation as a singer/songwriter, Avery LeVine – a prodigal multi-instrumentalist who plays a literal band-full of instruments ranging from acoustic guitar to mandolin, flute, Irish bouzouki and tin whistle – has become a rich addition to the Portland live music scene, playing both cozy Pubs or outdoor festivals in the park with the same results: captivated crowds drawn into the stories his songs tell as they’re entertained equally by the unique voice he sings them in, one that is comparable to fellow songwriters of the genre like Richard Thompson, but with a tone all his own. First brought to life on record throughout his well-received, and more traditional-oriented, Lonesome City E.P., which received radio play nationally and internationally across multiple formats from Roots and Blues to Folk and was even a featured release on the Celtic Radio Network- reflective of his sound’s wide-ranging appeal – LeVine’s sound is fused with an authentic background in traditional Irish/Celtic Folk as well.
Living abroad for 5 years in Ireland, LeVine dug deep into Celtic roots, studying with Irish music luminaries including the flute Tom Doorley (Danú) and Peter Browne (host of RTE’s The Rolling Wave) and mandolin with Kieran Hanrahan (host of R.T.E.’s Céilí House) before graduating with Honors from the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) with a Bachelors in Music focused in Irish Traditional Music Studies in 2011. After a stint playing with local Celtic trio Dram & Go once he’d settled back in Portland, Avery struck out on his own as a solo singer-songwriter and has already emerged as a shining star on the rise among the latest generation of contemporary Millennial Folk artists. Sharing a bit more with fans about his singular style and sound, LeVine muses that “My voice often gets compared to Richard Thompson, and my approach to songwriting has elements of other English folk artists that like to bend the rules – especially Nick Drake – with some contemporary influence from someone like Laura Marling. Another way to frame my music is that I use my background in traditional Irish/Celtic music, influenced by more contemporary sounds, to create my own style, similar to how Sarah Jarosz has used traditional American sounds infused with contemporary influences.” Avery has also shared stage time with artists like, the 2016 winner of NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest, Gaelynn Lea.
Sure to be used as a musical reference point by the next generation of Folk singer-songwriters one day, for the moment, Avery LeVine is squarely focused on the future as he serenades his way into new sets of ears each night he steps on stage to share his songs and sound with Portland’s eclectic listening audience. You can become a member by visiting him online at averylevinemusic.com, https://twitter.com/AveryL_Music and https://www.youtube.com/user/Unseen122
Credit: Jake Brown