Country trio Levon has come a long way from playing for tips outside Nashville’s popular Pancake Pantry, to inking a joint recording agreement with Sony Music Nashville’s Columbia Nashville imprint and with Epic Records.
The trio, which includes lead vocalist and guitarist Michael David Hall, as well as vocalist/bassist/percussionist Jake Singleton and vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Ryan Holladay, takes its name from The Band’s Levon Helm, as well as Elton John’s 1971 track “Levon.”
Levon released their five-track EP in May; producer Jamie Houston also lent co-writing duties to each of the tracks.
Singleton and Hall met while playing in two different bands and both working at restaurant Wild Ginger in Franklin, Tennessee’s Cool Springs area. Holladay joined the group a year later.
Hall’s stint at Wild Ginger also led to the writing and inspiration of their current single, “Ms. Marianne.”
“I was serving tables in Cool Springs, which happens to be the cougar capital of the world,” he says, as he recalls waiting on a female customer in her 50s. “The conversation escalated from ‘What kind of sushi do you like?’ to her asking where I would want to go on a date the next day. She was about 53 years old and I didn’t care at all because she was breathtaking. Our producer Jamie thought it was pretty funny. The day I was going on the date I told him, ‘Jamie, I’m going to cougar town.’ We started kicking around song ideas. Sometimes serving a table will lead to a pretty magnificent date.” And a hit song.
During a recent visit with MusicRow staff, the trio offered performances of several tracks, including “Wired” and “Runaway Love,” a song Hall calls one of his personal favorites.
“It’s got a ‘70s harmony-oriented groove,” Hall says. “It really captures the band’s spirit.”
The band has been traveling the country, performing acoustic showcases for radio station programmers. The trio says keeping things “lean and mean,” playing acoustically and relying on their signature harmonies, has proven a successful strategy for letting programmers and fans see the trio’s true essence.
“When people see us, they really get to hear three singers play these songs. In some cases we might have only five minutes to sound check. The more stripped down we’ve been, the more it’s helped us in these crazy performance scenarios. We get to lean on each other a lot and make sure the vocals are present.”
Earlier this year, Sony Music Nashville’s Randy Goodman and his team brought Levon in as one of the newest members of the Sony roster.
“We were auditioning around town and they instantly wanted us to stay ourselves and that from the get go was the selling point,” Hall says. “This town is so competitive and there is not a night you can go out and not see people more talented than you. We are on cloud nine and we want to take that playing for tips, hard work mentality and make it as big as we can.”
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