Friday night, The Barns at Wolf Trap hosted multiple Grammy Award winner, an acknowledged master of the diatonic harmonica. The man is a superb pianist, innovative composer, recording artist, bandleader, teacher, producer as well as a founding member of Béla Fleck and the Flecktones. The performance highlighted his versatility. Together with guitarist Chris Siebold he played in many different styles, including jazz, bluegrass, and his own compositions. We heard themes by Bob Dylan, like “Lay Lady Lay.” I especially liked “Fade to Black,” “Clouds” and “Amazing Grace.”
Levy is one of the few players who have the ability to produce chromatic scales on a regular diatonic harp. He’s a virtuoso on the piano, his first instrument. Maybe that’s why he is adept enough to play the piano and the harmonica simultaneously, or switch effortlessly from a selection of harmonicas. At one point he appeared to be playing the tambourine simultaneously with the piano. He even incorporated sound effects like a doorbell into a piece of music. You can see why he is a frequent guest on Garrison Keiller’s Prairie Home Companion. Levy has recorded or toured with Kenny Loggins, Donald Fagen, Bobby McFerrin, Sandip Burman, Dolly Parton, Dennis DeYoung, Paquito D’Rivera, Ben Sidran and Rabih Abou-Khalil.
Siebold is also a supremely talented musician, and he and Howard often perform as a team. I’ve never heard a guitar sound so much like a Sitar. He’s got a good bluesy voice, too.
This was an appreciative audience who would have welcomed another hour or so of this quality of music, but it was unfortunately only 1.5 hours.
Running Time: 90 minutes.