Marie Claire, Justin Levinson, And Lendway Saturday July 18, 2009 At Nectars

Words by Tim Lewis.

Justin Levinson is a singer songwriter who has just started a series of early shows at Nectars. He will be playing shows on Saturdays, for a while, with other singer songwriters. He began the series with Marie Claire. The show was set for 7 and I had to work until a couple of minutes past. I hurried downtown after work got in and grabbed a beer and a spot near the soundboard as Marie sat down to play. She played a nice version of Baby Blue (I don’t know if that’s the song title, but if you’ve ever seen her, you know the song). As she played, all of the angst of trying to get there on time, washed over me with a blanket of song. She is so worth the effort.

When she finished Justin stepped to his microphone and played a song. He’s a good guitar player and a pretty good singer, but after he finished the song he said they would take a break. Guessing I would get a better sense of his playing in a few minutes, I moved to the window, found a seat and watched the world walk down Main street for a while. After a bit Matt and Michael from Lendway appeared and said hi. They had just finished up a Kyle the Rider set. Apparently they have a “Canadian country duo” that’s pretty farcical. I’m not sure if it’s my speed but I will keep it in mind to check out sometime.

Soon enough it was back to the Marie and Justin show. Set two saw them alternate song after song. Justin played a few on Marie’s keyboard and showed himself to be an excellent if somewhat heavy-handed player. Against this backdrop Marie’s beautiful playing really shone.

This back and forth continued with Justin alternating between guitar and keyboards. He played some decent songs musically, though none of the lyrics did anything for me. She played her lovely songs and Red Eyes really stood out. Even Justin commented about how catchy the chorus was.

On some of Justin’s songs Marie chimed in on keys. She added subtle flourishes to some of his works giving them just a bit more breath. He jumped in on one of her songs playing lead harmonica, on a song he did not know, with the harmonica mixed louder than Marie’s keys, that pretty much destroyed the song. Oh well, it was only one.

After a while this blend of beauty and mediocrity gave way to Marie’s final song. She played a killer version of Couch Sleeper that sent my heart to the stars. Oh my god that song can soar. She really let her voice loose, and even the talkative audience at the bar listened in. The people seated close kept up their attention when Justin played his last song, but back at the bar the conversation returned. I could relate.

When the set was done I wandered around a bit and said hi to the guys in Lendway. We hung out and chatted and I told them I would be there for a bit but would not make it for the whole show. I was getting tired at this point and had a hunch that my house would be full of friends when I got home.

Those lovingly wonderful bastards who call themselves Lendway tried to entice me to stay. They said the first set would be familiar but the second would be more new and rocking and they know that’s what I like. They also said they had a brand new song that would be 5 or 6 into the first set.

Starving as I was, I retreated to a table to grab a bite to eat. I was almost done when they took the stage. I made it to the dance floor for the second song, and greatly enjoyed their smooth elegant pop rock. I hung out for a few songs in a very happy place, even if my batteries were running low. I made it for the new song, which sounded nice, but I did not retain a grasp of it so we will see how it takes me in the future. Next up they played a kicking version of the ultra catchy Two Sleepy Arms. As the song ended, so did I.

The walk home was pleasant, and as I thought my house was full of friends. We hung out and partied the night away and as I was so sated with beautiful music all I could do was enjoy.




This post was originally published by Tim Lewis at his personal blog,