Band voted best for simplicity

Local Americana rock band Levee Drivers at World Cafe Live. The trio released its first album, “Speakin’ Bourbon Coated Blues” in November. The band recently kicked off a nine-day tour on April 12.| Darragh Dandurand Friedman TTN
Local Americana rock band Levee Drivers at World Cafe Live. The trio released its first album, “Speakin’ Bourbon Coated Blues” in November. The band recently kicked off a nine-day tour on April 12.| Darragh Dandurand Friedman TTN

Despite not having yet released a full-length album, Americana band Levee Drivers has still been snagging several “Best in Philly” awards since officially taking the name in 2008.

Last year, the Tri-State Music Awards named the group the “Best Indie/Folk Americana Band.”

Originally hailing from Bucks County, Pa., the band is comprised of four people: August Lutz, 28, the frontman, Kyle Perella, 26, the lead guitarist, Jeff Orelowksi, 27, drummer and the newest member of the band, Ben Plotnick, 25, the bassist.

Lutz, Perella and Orelowski have been playing together for years – Lutz and Perella went to high school together – but up until last year, Levee Drivers had yet to find a long-term bassist. Lutz says he knew Plotnick as being a regular at the shows that they played.

“One night he came to one of our shows and we were all hanging out, drinking and he was talking about wanting to get back into music and if we knew any bands,” Lutz said, “and I’m here looking for a permanent bass player, so it kind of fell into place.”

Levee Drivers has a soulful, almost bluesy sound, but with an edge. A quick Google search of the band’s name will turn up references to musicians like Johnny Cash and Bryan Adams.

“I like to do very simplified and very straight-to-the-point songs,” Lutz said.

Americana is not a genre one might associate with Philadelphia, but Lutz admits to seeing a growing trend of this southern genre in the Northeast.

“Something’s clicking with people, to kind of just go backward and have an acoustic guitar,” Lutz said. “I definitely noticed a lot more bands coming out with a more, and I don’t want to say country because country can be an ugly word sometimes, but it’s definitely a nice little theme going on.”

The band will not be without a full-length album for long – in fact, members said they hope to release an album toward the end of the year. They have most of the musical foundations done, Lutz said, but they still have to shop around a three-song EP.

But the album will have to wait a little longer – on April 12, Levee Drivers kicked off a nine-day tour at World Café Live. This mini-tour takes the band just below the Mason-Dixon Line to four states, including the center of the country music world: Tennessee.

“This tour is the first tour where we’re actually going to be co-touring, which is going to be pretty fun, with our friends the Grand Nationals,” Lutz said. “We usually try to hit Knoxville, Nashville, places like that to get a certain feel and to take a little break from the East Coast for a little bit.”

Despite its award recognition, which Lutz said still baffles him, there’s a lot that the band has to accomplish. It moved past the smaller goals, he said, like being played on the radio, but there’s still more to do.

“There’re definitely steps that we have that we crossed off and many steps that we haven’t crossed off,” Lutz said. “Right now we’re mainly concentrating on the album, that’s the big one to cross off.”

Still, putting aside everything Lutz hopes to accomplish with the band, he still wants people to come out and enjoy its live shows – he wants to create a memorable experience for fans.

“We’re a band that works very hard; we put a lot into our live shows,” Lutz said. “One of the most important things you can do is try and make every live show different than the last.”

Samantha Tighe can be reached at samantha.tighe@temple.edu and on Twitter @SamTighe.

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