The new counterculture lives in the middle.

Peter Levin is a hell of a Hammond player

Peter Levin | Keys with Gregg Allman Band, Pharrell, The Highwomen, Marcus King, Amanda shires. Photo by Chris Pizzolo

“Peter Levin is a hell of a Hammond player.” Please don’t take my word for it; that’s what Greg Allman said about him. “A little more Leon Russell and Billy Preston,” the legendary frontman of the Allman Brothers continued. And he’s not the only one who thinks so, judging by his incredible oeuvre. He’s played, written, produced, and toured with too many superstars to list. Highlights include Allman, Aaron Neville, Pharell Williams, Marcus King, Amanda Shires, The Highwomen, Blind Boys of Alabama, and The O’Jays.

Levin kicks off a weekend of music at the Analog at the Hutton Hotel this Friday night. He’ll have special guests throughout, but on both nights, he’ll be joined by Nikke Glaspie on drums, whose impressive credits include working with artists such as Snarky Puppy, Beyoncé, Nth Power, Maceo Parker, and Dumpstahfunk. And Roosevelt Collier, an accomplished pedal steel virtuoso who regularly collaborates with megastar Jelly Roll and Grammy-nominated world music group Bukante. All three are members of Trouble No More, the only Allman-sanctioned Allman Brothers tribute band.

Nikki Glaspie | Drummer for Beyonce, Maceo Parker, The Nth Power, Dumpstahfunk
Roosevelt Collier | Pedal Steel with Jellyroll, Bokante, Roosevelt Collier Band

His journey began in a home on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, where classical music and show tunes filled the air. His mother was a classical pianist who died when Levin was young, but not before instilling a lifelong love of music, even if it wasn’t the music he was surrounded by. “I was seven years old, and I would sit in my room listening to rock radio and The Quiet Storm.” He played a little bit in high school but started his own band, “Peanut Funker and Jam” in college. He sharpened his chops in Rochester, New York, learning composition, improvisation, and arrangement at the famous Eastman School before returning to New York City in the late ’80s.

It was a tough, crowded, competitive scene that thickened Levin’s skin while he sharpened his skills. “It was a dirty, rough, raw energy,” he says. According to Levin, the scene in New York in those days was “like coming up through musical bootcamp.” The band leaders, featuring “a lot of crazy egos,” according to Levin, would often make wild demands of the newer players: “Some guys would insist that the drummer not use the toms ‘until they could get the groove perfect’ or they’d only let the bass player play with two strings. Then, if they could do that right, they could have three and maybe even four.” He laughs with nostalgia, recalling the craziness of that scene. But with persistence and professionalism, he continued to move up the musical food chain.

He got to go on tour with one of his heroes, Greg Allman. That’s how he met Amanda Shires when she was touring as support for Allman, and that connection proved to be hugely influential. “Greg would invite her up to jam sometimes, and I would be the only one signaling her the numbers for the chord changes.” This cooperative gesture seemingly paid off later when Shires was about to make a record, and she sought out Levin for work on it. Then, upon relocating to Nashville in October 2018, having previously split his time between NYC and Nashville for several years before, “she was extremely helpful in getting me into the scene, introducing me to people and helping me get my bearings about me.” She also had him join the supergroup The Highwomen, on whose record Levin has a songwriting credit. These collaborations have not only shaped his musical journey but also added depth and richness to his repertoire, a testament to his versatility and talent.

In August of 2021, he released his solo album, the soulful “Saturday Night Sunday Morning,” but that’s when things took an unexpected turn, as he faced a life-changing challenge. On the night of the release, Levin played to a captive crowd at The City Winery in Nashville. “I didn’t really feel right, but I kinda brushed it off as dehydration at first and drank some water.” Marcus King had his tour bus parked at the City Winery, and Levin was slated to go on tour with King and his band right after the release. After he boarded the bus, his chest tightened, and he had trouble breathing. Cut to roughly three months later, and Levin was leaving the hospital after an emergency heart transplant. “I don’t use this word lightly, but that was a true miracle.”

Recently back from his first overseas tour since the transplant, Levin is grateful for his new home in Nashville and the community he’s found here: “I love how Nashville revolves around every aspect of the music industry. whether you’re a musician, writer, driver, or lighting guy, there is a lane for you in this town.” And we’re grateful that Peter has found a home here as a Nashvillian.

Peter Levin and Friends, featuring Nikki Glaspie and Roosevelt Collier, will be playing psychedelic-based blues and funk in an Organ trio setting during their “house WEEKEND” shows.
Analog at Hutton Hotel
7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, May 24-25

Related posts