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Press and Reviews

Leva is a fiddler who operates under the old-time radar. He is a highly-talented player and a gifted singer and songwriter who has not achieved the fame of many who possess a fraction of his abilities. - SingOut! / Winter 2008 / page 120 / TD


These guys have the chops. James learned all he could in person from Tommy Jarrell in Mount Airy and from other authentic old-time musicians. He's got 8 or 9 CD's out there with a mixture of traditional tunes and his own well-honed songs.  - Art of Sound Festival, Shelby NC

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Contact and Booking:
James Leva
Question Mark Lane
Lexington, VA 24450
Tel: 540.464.6526

"Memory Theatre is a recording for the ages."  - Tom Druckenmiller - Sing Out! Magazine


"This...will please even the stodgiest old-timey fan, while effectively seducing the masses that don't usually appreciate the adventure of traditional old-time music. [...] Memory Theatre is a recording full of dark beauty, and I give it my highest recommendation." - John Wolfe - writer for CD Roundup


“When James gets up from the floor - dusty but defiant and happy to be here with the rest of us - he writes. Others do it, but few of them can tell stories like James can... The stories are wrapped within the organic traditions that James the musician commands so well, but in the end it's going straight in, and I never care how it got there.” - Sam Broussard


Good Cajun and mountain musicians mean little if they don't have good songs, but Leva has come up with strong material, along with three fine instrumental tunes. The title song, which Leva sings in French, features a banjo riff inspired by a Malian balafon player and lyrics derived from a song improvised by his six-year-old daughter. "Family Again" expresses the hurt of a child caught up in a divorce. "It Must Be Good" features words of wisdom found in Colin Turnbull's classic book on the Pygmies of the African rainforest. `Til I Know is well worth seeking out. - Dirty Linen / December `05 - January `06


James Leva has always had a knack for combining the old with the new, of adding a sheen to the rustic. To some, this might signify a compromise, trading traditional old-time musical values to gain a larger audience. ... Just three cuts into 'Til I Know, it's pretty obvious that Leva -- a fine singer and solid musician -- is quite eclectic... 'Til I Know is much more interesting than the straightforward bluegrass and old-timey album that offers no more than fast and slow songs and ends with a gospel number.  Leva and company have put together an engaging album that keeps traditional music alive by making it speak to contemporary listeners. ~ Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr., All Music Guide


"[Memory Theatre].. is not wholly old-time, nor is it wholly Celtic, as each style stays true to itself, but a complimentary contrast of the two that creates a new form. [...] This is an enchanting, hypnotic album and a great example of the creative things that can be done within the traditional framework." - Bluegrass Unlimited


"Memory Theatre" is a remarkable album. [...] Leva succeeds at a seemingly impossible task; he adds a contemporary edge to old-time music without sacrificing tradition. Don't miss it."-Ronnie D. Lankford - The All Music Guide


A healthy respect for and grounding in traditional, old-time country music, superb musicianship, a magical vocal blend and a sensitive, literate style of writing. One of the most refreshing traditional sound recordings of original material to be released in years. - Sing Out!


The music "not only fuses old-time and Gaelic sounds into something new, it shivers and reels with an energy that frequently approaches that of rock'n'roll."

"...if a modernized take on Appalachian music and its roots is what you're after, this album is the one to get." - Jon Weisberger - No Depression magazine


"'Memory Theatre' is a magnificent project chock full of some of the most hauntingly beautiful and lonesome (...) singing and sawing I've ever heard. [...] 'Memory Theatre' captures the true essence of old-timey music, evoking images and wisdom from an earlier, ancient time-it's a deeply spiritual and moving listening experience from which I'll probably never recover." - Dave Higgs - host of radio's syndicated Bluegrass Breakdown (WPLN, Nashville)


Quotes on Jones and Leva


The gorgeous retro-country duo Jones and Leva haven't gained even a portion of the fame of Gillian Welch or Iris Dement, but they have skills and spirit that equal any traditionalist singers alive It's some of the prettiest, most vivid music made in 1998. - The Boston Herald

Carol Elizabeth Jones and James Leva are back with another great album of old style country songs and some dark balladry great old-time fiddling from Leva and Jones' voice on all tracks is a pleasure as well. She will make a fan of anyone that enjoys Gillian Welch or Iris Dement. This music is rooted in tradition, but is still young, fresh and powerful. - Crossroads


Every time I think I've heard it all, somebody comes along with a new slant on music making that forces me to re-examine my prejudices. Jones and Leva use old time Southern music as a jumping off place for their own compositions, tunes that combine the archaic musical styles they love with contemporary arrangements and poetic lyrics that are decidedly modern in their outlook. Jones and Leva sing with a sophistication and compassion that turns these simple moments into art. - The Beat Magazine


Carol Elizabeth Jones and James Leva have defined their own space in the vastness of No Depression with original songs influenced equally by the Monroe Brothers and Gram Parsons. Then they add daring harmonic ideas and unexpected chords without losing sight of rural American music. Jones and Leva long ago established that they could play and sing old-time music. Now they prove they can create a sound of their own. - Art Menius, The Independent, Raleigh, NC


Their singing has that plaintive, mountain sound, and their pure duet harmony will give you goosebumps. While the music has a traditional sound, the lyrics are literate, poetic and contemporary. This album has a haunting, mysterious and timeless feel that will stay with you. - KPFT Pickin' and Swingin', Houston, TX


Timeless poetic and affecting songs, Jones and Leva have mastered the art of writing new songs that sound generations old spare and haunting songs frequently enriched by close harmonies wonderfully evocative string band arrangements. - The Washington Post

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