Eli Lev’s love of travel and sincere interest in world cultures have outfitted the singer-songwriter with a unique toolkit for musical storytelling.
Lev will, as he says, “make the world a smaller place” by bringing his indie folk and Americana music leanings, with an “originals and covers set,” to the Bull and Buck in Basalt on Sept. 23 at 6:30 p.m. The show is free.
For a couple of years, Lev lived in Andorra, a country located in the Pyrenees mountains, nestled between France and Spain. He is excited to be back in Colorado and keenly understands the landscape as a place “totally surrounded by mountains” with “a certain way of life where time travels a little bit differently.”
Lev grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, D.C., where his parents worked in government: his mother for civil rights and his father for the Department of Health and Human Services.
Growing up in the ethnically-diverse community of Silver Spring sculpted Lev’s worldview and, more pointedly, his music. He said, “My friends were Cuban, Indian, Persian and Asian immigrants. Muslims, Christians and Jews — everybody from everywhere — shaped my view of the world.”
Those experiences would prove to be the impetus for Lev’s adventures around the world. For him, travel is “going out and meeting people, where they are and who they are and what they believe.” All of that has influenced his music.
A touring musician offered Lev a gig at a Georgetown coffee shop. He recounted, “Five people said, ‘Hey, when’s your next show?’” That became the impetus for a series of events, allowing Lev to become a full-time musician.
Lev’s laid back vocal stylings bring to mind singers like Jack Johnson and Ben Harper. When paired with his vibrant and upbeat acoustic guitar playing, it makes for a satisfying listening experience.
On his Facebook page, Lev declares himself a “self-proclaimed folk hero,” which comes from his deep respect for the roots of folk music. “Folk music has stories that celebrate the common human experience, and those stories are passed through time and reinterpreted into different versions along the way. That’s why I champion folk music; I like how the stories connect our generations.”
After earning a master’s degree in education, he taught eighth-grade English to Navajo students in northern Arizona. Lev’s hosts taught him about honoring the four cardinal directions — north, east, south and west. Lev shared, “It is a concept that rang true for me because that’s essentially how Navajo perceive the world’s place: surrounded by the four directions and four sacred mountains.”
That perspective helped to inform his first steps on the path to becoming a musician. “As a beginning musician, I needed something as an anchor and something to guide me on that journey. I thought, ‘The four directions, I’m familiar with that. I will start in the east where the sun comes up.’”
His Four Directions Project consists of a four-part recording catalog, with each installment a five-song EP. These include “All Roads East” (2017), “Way Out West” (2018), “Deep South” (2019) and “True North” (2021).
That initiative has led to Lev’s Three Worlds Project, which will consist of three albums. The first will examine the three worlds of past lives, present journeys and future myths in a timeline that explores Lev’s ancestry, his current journey and what’s to come for our country, humanity and the world.
The second is “Two Friends,” a collaborative album between two musicians, and the final installment, “One Road,” is, as Lev said, “just kind of bringing it all home.”
In Basalt, Lev will be joined by his partner in music and life, singer-songwriter Megan Leigh. The two, collaborating as the duo Wild Whispers, weave together engaging rhythms and dulcet vocal harmonies and released their self-titled debut album in July with funding from an online crowdfunding campaign.
The performance venue — Bull and Buck — opened last December in Basalt’s Gold Rivers Court and has a modern lodge aesthetic. They serve pub-style fare with dishes like bangers and mash and entrée offerings including elk medallions and Colorado rainbow trout, along with a dessert and full drink menu.
For more about Lev and his music, go to eli-lev.com/music
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