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Shannon Livewell

Justin Levinson: From Vermont to CT

Photo Obtained Via Facebook
Photo Obtained Via Facebook

Justin Levinson is a young singer/songwriter from Burlington, VT., with a vast catalog of songs that has continued to grow since the debut of his first album in 2005.

Levinson performed at The Space in Hamden, CT a few weeks ago alongside the very talented, Teddy Geiger [interviewed in the Feb. 5 issue]. I was lucky enough to snag an interview with Levinson after his performance and ask him a few questions about his musical career.

“My father is a music teacher so I started taking lessons on piano when I was six. By the fifth grade I wrote my first song and performed it with my Dad at a poetry slam,” said Levinson when I asked how he got started in the music industry. “I also took up the trumpet in elementary school. When I got to high school, I was introduced to legendary jazz trumpet player Lester Bowie and Motown legend Fontella Bass. They were both on a grant to bring jazz to rural areas and they happened to come to Vergennes, VT, where I was in school.”

Having such legends around him when he was at the age where he was able to recognize the musical world must have had such an immense impact on his career.

“After high school, Lester wrote me a letter of recommendation that got me into Berklee School Of Music,” Levinson said. “Lester is the kinda cat that had a lot of pull in the jazz world.”

“I ended up with trumpet as my principle instrument at Berklee but I changed directions and became a songwriting major. After school I just started pounding the pavement with touring out of my van. Nothing has changed.”

Very rarely do I ask this two-part question and receive the same answer for both parts. When I asked who his influences were, both musically and personally, Levinson responded, “I think my parents are for sure. My Dad is also a songwriter so I think I learned how to write a hook from him. My Mom is also a music enthusiast. She got me into Electric Light Orchestra and Ben Folds Five. They both really believe in my music and have supported me unconditionally.”

“Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of the band Fun. and Justin Timberlake before shows. It helps to sing a long with those guys as a warm up too,” Levinson answered when I probed about his favorite “pump-up” artists or songs to listen to before he performs. “They sing so high which helps loosen up my vocal chords a little.”

Levinson does not compare himself to any artists in the industry today, however. He simply says, “I think all independent artists are in the same the boat these days. We need to work together and help each other. My belief is that if you put out authentic music people will see it and support it. I try to be as true to myself as possible.”

My favorite song off of Levinson’s new E.P was Give it One More Try, which can be easily heard on Levinson’s website. Therefore, I wasn’t surprised when Levinson said that song meant the most to him off of his E.P, “A lot of my tunes touch on deep subjects but have a sense of humor to them. I guess it’s kind of a cover up for me in a way. In this case I really just wrote from the heart. Was definitely a tear jerker!” A tearjerker it was for me as well and I didn’t even live through the same story. I guess it is one of things people can just relate to on a personal level.

“Grammercy Theatre in NYC,” said Levinson when I asked his favorite place he’s ever performed. “I played a sold out show there on The After Party Tour with Aaron Carter. It was just my piano, acoustic guitar, a thousand girls and me; talk about scary!” Somehow I think Levinson was about to accept the thousands of girls cheering him on.

Lastly, I asked a question that normally tells a lot about an artist. If there was any artist dead or alive you could sit down to eat dinner with, whom would it be and why? “I think I’d have to pick John Lennon. Not too many people have had that kind of impact musically and socially. I think if he were here today he’d have a lot to say.”

Like I said, that question speaks volumes about the kind of artist someone is and their musical knowledge and passion. Levinson is on the right track to greatness and if you haven’t heard his music yet, I suggest you utilize your technology right now and type his name into whatever you use to stream your music now-a-days.