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Levi Dean & The Americats: now Free and Untethered

“When we wouldn’t comply we were kicked off stage and asked to leave with no pay”

Levi Dean & The Americats once played an alligator festival in Colorado.
  • Levi Dean & The Americats once played an alligator festival in Colorado.

Levi Dean, born in Virginia, late of the Rocky Mountains, late of Nashville, lately seen around University Heights, Normal Heights, and North Park, has had good and bad shows all over the country.

“One of our worst shows,” he recalls, “was a show on tour at a seedy bar in the backwaters outside of Tampa Florida. The audience expressed unhappiness with our original tunes by yelling ‘Quit playing that Earl Scruggs shit and play us some Haggard!’ When we wouldn’t comply, we were kicked off stage and asked to leave with no pay.”

“Years ago, we played at an alligator festival while touring through Colorado. That’s right, alligators in Colorado! The park is able to raise and care for alligators from local hot springs water. Anyhow, the festival was a blast. While we were playing, there was an active alligator wrestling match happening in the background.”

Dean doesn’t experience nearly so much chaos and mania on his new(er) home turf, and fine by him. “Sycamore Den is warm and welcoming,” he opines when asked to name his favorite San Diego venues. “Black Cat is raw and homegrown, and the Merrow has the best sound in town.”

His favorite San Diego acts? “Nina Francis and Mike Pope both come to mind — skillful songwriters and unapologetically themselves.”

Dean’s new band Levi Dean & The Americats, just dropped their second album Free and Untethered, playing amalgamated punk, blues, classical, and folk. “The harmonica player, Patrick Mackey, and I met jamming at a backyard gathering,” relates Dean. “Patrick’s roommate, KC Kruger, who used to play bass for the San Diego punk band Ass to Mustache, eventually joined the band.”

“We then met our drummer, Lucho Cely, while playing at the SoNo Fest. Lucho grew up playing in rock n’ roll bands in Ecuador. Lucho brought in his Ecuadorian acquaintance and electric guitar virtuoso Nicolas Pachano. Our most recent addition is Madeline Skillman, who we met at one of our shows. She plays the accordion and sings silky harmonies.”

He credits the Rockies for his musical voice, and Nashville for teaching him hustle. He’s never left behind the folk music from his Southern home. San Diego though, he allows, “feels more diverse, and tolerant of art forms that don’t fit in a box.”

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