Today sees the release of blues pianist, vocalist, and songwriter Ben Levin’s third Vizztone album, Still Here. Ben has been playing 100 shows a year since he was 15 years old, embracing the authentic sound of his heroes such as Professor Longhair, Pinetop Perkins, Otis Spann, and Ray Charles.
Piano lessons with world-renowned Cincinnati-based blues/boogie pianist Ricky Nye led Ben into a passion that has not let up since. Ben’s first festival appearance was for his local Cincy Blues Fest at age 13; by age 15 he was the full-time piano player in his father’s band weekend band The Heaters.
“Steady Rollin'” Bob Margolin writes in the liner notes:
Ben Levin, 21, brings vintage style with youthful fire to his piano, singing and songwriting. The songs written by Ben and his father, guitarist Aron Levin, and the well-chosen covers reflect the music and sound of Cincinnati’s historic King Records along with what’s in their hearts today.
Ben’s piano influences are New Orleans greats Professor Longhair, Fats Domino, and Smiley Lewis. From Chicago Blues, he mixes in Otis Spann, Pinetop Perkins and Henry Gray, along with the relentless drive of Cincinnati’s Big Joe Duskin.
Aron Levin contributes deep songwriting and guitar playing that can be only from a family connection. His tone, phrasing, and ability to ride styles with clever originality make for seamless musical and genetic collaboration.
The original songs are organic and homegrown. The stories come from Ben’s and Aron’s lives. Their Blues, perspective and philosophy is brilliantly paced with their danceable, upbeat songs.
A New Orleans stroll in an eight-bar format, the single “Love and Friendship” features Ben’s pounding left hand driving the rhythm behind his agile melodies and a tasty solo from guitarist Aron Levin.
Originally performed by Jimmy Witherspoon, this song showcases the most virtuosic piano playing and singing Ben Levin has recorded to date, with licks that span all 88 keys.