Finding the best of anything can be an exercise in futility. Occasionally though, you’ll strike musical gold. Look no further than Barmel on Saturday, Nov. 16, where the San Jose four-piece Levi Jack will be serving up a cocktail of genre-hopping jam rock combining singer-songwriter lyrics, three-part harmonies, and a heavy rhythm section. With doses of ambient rock, jazz and classic rock as well as a dash of country, folk and grunge, Levi Jack eludes definition. They are a genre all their own.
“We believe in quality music from the heart,” explains lead singer and band founder Marty Martin. “We play music we believe in.”
That’s evident when you hear him and longtime musical partner Rich Thomas exchange lead vocals and seamlessly blend harmonies. The newest member, drummer David Kerrey, adds his voice and Starr/Bonham-inspired drumming. Bassist Brett Klynn covers all of the low end on his fan-fretted five-string bass.
The band name comes from a random conversation, in reference to the name of Martin and Thomas’ previous band, Corduroy Jim. “Who’s that? Levi Jack’s Cousin?” someone once asked in jest. “After [Corduroy Jim] dissolved, our new band came together organically, and the name was a perfect fit,” Martin says.
Fashion – corduroy, denim or otherwise – is not at the forefront of the band’s mission. Performing at their best is what makes them tick. On the track “Mary Rose,” a twangy guitar lick introduces a story of lost love, progressing into an arrangement of crescendos trading off with dreamy instrumental solo sections reminiscent of the Grateful Dead.
Meanwhile “Around the Sun,” with its lush, chorus-clad 12-string guitar and the reassuring chant of “It will be OK,” recalls The Cure and The Smiths. The ode “California” is a folky rock tune about the love of living in the golden state. Melodic bass and reverb-saturated guitar drive this O.A.R.-meets-Dave Matthews style toe-tapper.
After ending their last few sets at Barmel with crowds cheering for more – followed by impromptu jams and the bartenders’ tip jar getting passed around – they’ve already booked dates for 2020.
“Barmel has been one of the most gratifying places to play,” Kerrey says about returning to the swampy Carmel music haven. “The crowd has been fun and receptive, and the bartender Cesar always asks us to play more.”
Next time they’ll bring a new EP entitled Around the Sun, a recording they’ve been working on for over two years.
LEVI JACK 7pm Nov. 16. Barmel, San Carlos and Seventh, Carmel. No cover. 626-3400.