Levee Daze
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Levee Daze

Baton Rouge, Louisiana, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2010 | SELF

Baton Rouge, Louisiana, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2010
Band Rock Funk


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Local band Levee Daze finds opportunity in Baton Rouge"

Rippling waters, undulating barges and majestic steel bridges have worked in harmony to make Louisiana’s Mississippi River basin an economic and cultural hub for decades.

A mile from Louisiana State University, the state’s flagship institution, Scott Graves, John Trufant, Andrew Borniak and Dominic DeJuilio take in the rhythm of the area from the roof of their house on the corner of Aster Street and River Road.

It is from their perch, which overlooks the pulsating Mississippi waters entrapped by river’s the natural levees, that these LSU seniors formed the locally acclaimed and burgeoning band Levee Daze—making a “spicy roux” of music in what they see as the unique and opportune environment of their new home of Baton Rouge.

The band members said they gained most of the inspiration for their eponymous debut album, which was released on ITunes last month, from the culture of Louisiana, sunsets on the levees and their individual hometowns.

“Our sound is pretty reflective of the area,” said bassist Borniak, who along with keyboardist, DeJuilio, is originally from Chicago.

“People have told us before that our stuff sounds like southern Louisiana,” Graves, the bands drummer and an Austin native added. “But coupled with what each of us brings to the table.”

It is this diverse and fluid community among the band members Graves and lead vocalist, Trufant, agreed that brought the group together.

While living in LSU’s Pentagon dormitory, Trufant first encountered Borniak and DeJuilio playing covers in the dorm’s courtyard during their freshman year of 2010. The former jazz-band-mates invited Trufant, a North Carolina native and blues enthusiast, to join them after meeting in a history of jazz class that fall.

Their sounds mixed well and eventually the group began to attract crowds of residents during each “jam session.”

The trio later joined forces with a drummer whom they claim “spontaneously combusted” in the spring of 2012. They then invited acquaintance Graves to join the band as a consistent member.

From then on, the group officially became known as Levee Daze and gained notoriety in the Baton Rouge music scene.

By the next semester they had won the Student Government’s Battle of the Bands contest, which afforded them the opportunity to play at the annual Groovin’ on the Grounds concert at LSU with the likes of big-names like Grace Potter and Lupe Fiasco.

“We could see things were going up once we got Groovin’,” Borniak said. “We gained more traction.”

They considered the LSU concert as their breakthrough and said their creativity flourished after the show.

Within the month following Groovin’, the band solidified the seven-song track list for their first album, played at local venues more frequently and even landed a show at the New Orleans House of Blues this past February, which Borniak called the “pinnacle” of the band’s emergence.

They attribute their success to the friendly community of musicians and music-lovers who promote original artists, and noted that venues such as Mud and Water and Chelsea’s Café were especially open to local acts.

Jeremy Woolsey the owner of Mud and Water said local acts are the “backbone” of his venue’s schedule.

Having started his own career in the music industry at Baton Rouge’s college radio station KLSU, he said he thinks Baton Rouge is a great place for young musicians to start out.

“It’s a very collaborative community with plenty of energy and places to play,” Woolsey said.

The band agreed that they enjoy playing in and attending shows in Baton Rouge because of this collaborative element.

DeJuilio explained that it is common for performing bands in Baton Rouge to invite other artists or groups to accompany them or play their original work during local shows. Musicians attend each other’s shows and offer support and advice to other bands trying to make it in the industry.

“The musicians are friends, and then the people who go to the shows go to all of the other musicians’ shows,” DeJuilio said. “It’s always the same group of people, kind of like a family.”

DeJuilio and Borniak said this type of environment does not exist in their hometown of Chicago, which they described as “cut throat.” Borniak predicted that it would have been difficult for a band of Levee Daze’s caliber to gain prominence back home.

“[In Baton Rouge] we’re all just coming out here to play,” Borniak said. “All trying to find gigs.”

In addition to the friendships in the community, the band said the bonds within their group have also allowed them to be so successful so quickly.

Trufant, Borniak and DeJuilio are all roommates at the Aster house overlooking the river, and Graves lives less than a block away.

The band said they spend the majority of their days together, even when they are not playing. They admitted to bickering often, but said it has yet to seriously interfere with their work.

“Even if we get in a big fight in the business world, I still have to live with these guys,” Trufant said. “We have to make up fast.”

“It’s too much fun to let the bad stuff get to you,” Borniak added.

They believe that their music has become better as their fun-loving and close friendships have evolved.

“We can pump out songs like nothing these days,” Graves said. “Well not nothing…”

“But it’s more natural now because we are so familiar with each other’s style,” Trufant continued, finishing his friend’s thought.

Graves said he thinks their friendship is palatable to the audiences he sees dancing and having fun at each of their shows, and said their energetic style is one of the reasons they have been so well received.

“We play in a band together because we are all good friends and we enjoy each other’s company,” Graves said. “It’s more than business and professional relationships. It’s music and friendship flourishing. That’s what I think makes our vibe special.”

The band plans on taking their spirited vibe on tour this summer across the Southeast, and possibly to Colorado, to promote the album.

They don’t claim to have many plans for the future other than what Borniak calls, “doing the living in the moment thing” in their house on the levee. - Manship Digital News

"Celebration Groove"

Baton Rouge’s Levee Daze will drop the curtain on a debut album Friday with an ambitiously collaborative performance-party and CD handouts for attendees.

But beyond the recording process, costs of production, song-writing and practicing for Friday’s debut performance at Chelsea’s, the band’s hardest work involving the record was labeling it with a genre for an intellectual property rights form.

“There’s no way to pin it down to just one approach,” said drummer Scotty Graves. “I can’t really think of a particular genre that we haven’t incorporated in one way or another into what we do. It’s indicative of the way we all function as musicians.”

While the band shares unifying aspects when they play and in the music they listen to, their differences and range of interests help produce spontaneity and variety in their music, which was something they wanted to showcase in the album and upcoming live show, Graves said.

The band of LSU students started making plans for an album when they started filling local venues with groovy improvisation, four years ago. While a previous recording mishap and a heavy performance schedule prevented an earlier album, the group was able to use its long-lasting experience of tight-knit live performance in the studio to produce a live feel said Graves.

“There were some live moments, some moments of pure connection,” said Graves.

Rather than laying down tracks by recording each instrumental separately, the band recorded the tracks together, in a group — save for some added vocals and percussion.

“We were all in a circle in the same room, looking at each other and playing,” said guitarist John Trufant. “We laid down the skeleton of a couple of songs and just went with it.”

The recording studio also lent some new and unexpected elements to the album. Graves found an opportunity to record at Eastern Sun Studios, an artist-filled recording haven in his hometown of Austin, Texas. There, the band saddled up their gear and entered a warehouse with a built-in sound-proof recording studio. But they weren’t the only ones there to work.

“There were other artists just making art all throughout the studio like sculptors and painters — just doing all kinds of art for different projects,” remembered Trufant.

Bassist Andrew Borniak said that experience lent a productive component to the band’s work.

“It felt cool because it was a building where all these people, though they were doing different kinds of art – including us – were all just working,” said Borniak. “It was like a little micro-community. So I think that actually added to the creativity [of the album].”

Taking an out-of-state trip also lent the band a nice opportunity to approach their recording work from a different direction than usual practices at their levee-bound home on river road. The band planned to record seven tracks, but by the time they set up their gear to record, they were already making changes.

“You play it live in front of a crowd and you have one mindset: ‘What are they going hear? How are they going to hear it?’” explained Trufant. “So then you go into the studio and you realize, ‘Even though we wrote this in the house, it feels different now that we’re here.’”

At the end of the process, the band had seven tracks recorded that they picked to form a cohesive work from beginning to end, including a reggae cover of the folk classic, “Shady Grove.” While they had more material, they felt these songs stuck to each other the best, said Trufant.

“It’s a collection of songs that make up the last couple of years on the levee,” he said.

Chelsea’s will charge a $7 cover charge for Friday’s performance, which will feature opener Machete from Lafayette, Levee Daze with special guests, and a copy of the new Levee Daze album upon entry. - DIG Baton Rouge Magazine

"Album Review: Levee Daze - Levee Daze"

Local musicians and LSU seniors Levee Daze are no newcomers to making music. They’ve spent four years together as a band, and keyboardist Dom DeJuilio and Andrew Borniak have been playing together for eight.

With their experience comes a mature and measured philosophy of recording, which is becoming rarer and rarer in today’s single-driven world: a deep respect for the album as a coherent, sonic experience. On their first, eponymous release, that’s what they try to accomplish.

When recording the record in Austin’s Eastern Sun Studios, Levee Daze had more than 20 choices for songs to put on the record, byproducts of so many live performances and jam sessions. Eventually, however, they boiled that number down to seven. The transitions were polished and the themes were condensed.

They made an admirable point to choose not necessarily the best songs, but the ones that worked best together.

For all its proficiency and sonic contiguity, however, Levee Daze is almost too perfect. It has a bit of a live feel, but with excellent mastering. All of the record’s instruments are well-pronounced, masterfully played, and clearly audible and sparse, with no distortion or fuzz to be seen.

Yet this lack of distortion sometimes screams out as disingenuous. The second track in particular, “In the B.A.G.,” is supposed to be an instrumental funkout, featuring slide guitar work from John Trufant, and deft keyboarding by DeJuilio. However, it doesn’t have too much personality, instead sounding like a session musician’s audition tape – like they’re just trying to prove that they can play, and play well.

“Blue Mountain” is a bit of a recovery, with a wonderful intro that blossoms from a sparse and hazy guitar riff into a sprawling bluesy track punctuated by the same riff surrounded by textured percussion and burgeoning keyboards.

The transitory work really shines both here and between the tracks “Spontaneous Combustion” and “Pass Around the Wine” – which blend together as if they were the same song.

The band calls themselves a “gumbo of musicians and styles,” and it’s true that their sound is difficult to classify. It’s definitely rock, but with blues, funk, jam, jazz, and even reggae and bluegrass influences.

The effort they put forth for sonic continuity shows, though; all these influences shine, but within a definitive overarching style. Jam band-y “Wolves in Sheepskin” is a piano ballad that’s equal parts Billy Joel and Widespread Panic.

My favorite track on the record, “Shady Grove,” starts with a bluegrass-infused intro. You’d expect it to explode into a foot-stomping romp a la the mountains of Trufant’s home state of North Carolina. About 15 seconds in, though, it chills out marvelously into a lazy, syncopated reggae song. The bluegrass influence doesn’t disappear, though, and rears its head periodically, inconspicuously, wonderfully.

Considering the extremely diverse background of the band (DeJuilio & Borniak are from Chicago, Trufant is from Brevard, North Carolina, and percussionist Scott Graves is from Austin), Levee Daze has done extremely well condensing their sound into a cohesive little unit for their first release.

They have the right idea in mind.

Their respect for the album is admirable, but is this the quintessential Levee Daze sound? I doubt it. This album smoothly brings together so many different elements and histories, but it doesn’t bring too much new to the table. I feel like this young band has quite a bit more in the chamber.

Levee Daze has their eyes on another project slated to sound entirely different, and I hope it involves a bit more creation as opposed to skillful synthesis. Until then, the curious combination of their self-titled release is unlikely to leave my car stereo. - DIG Baton Rouge Magazine

"Levee Daze preps debut album"

With numerous blogs and coverage throughout the city, Baton Rouge’s varied music scene is continuously brought into the light. Bands made up of students are quickly sprouting up in apartment buildings, practicing and grooming their musical prowess.

These tight-knit groups often collaborate and form additional bands and side projects, helping to add to Baton Rouge’s supply of local entertainment.

Usually, these offshoots result in shared members. One example is Levee Daze, a band that shares drummer Scott Graves from popular jazz-rock band Burris.

Graves and his band mates Dom DeJulilio, John Trufant and Andrew Borniak come together to bring a blues and funk sound that exhibits the members’ influences.

After devoting months to schoolwork and practice, Levee Daze is ready to release its full-length eponymous debut March 21. The release will be celebrated with a much-anticipated party at Chelsea’s Cafe.

The Daily Reveille sat down with Levee Daze to chat about the new EP.

The Daily Reveille: What do you guys think makes you sound like what you sound like?

John Trufant: Well, we’re all inspired by a lot of different music, a lot of different genres, and it’s pretty hard to specify.

TDR: What music do you all like?

Andrew Borniak: Funk, rock, reggae, blues, jazz, bluegrass, classical…

Scott Graves: There really isn’t a genre we haven’t touched. As an over-arching genre when people have asked, I tend to call it a funky psychedelic rock. But, I mean, of course, that leaves out a large amount of elements that we’re very influenced by. If you come to a show, you will hear a grab bag of genres. Latin breaks, even. It’s very hard to pin down, which is, you know, what everybody says about their own music.

TDR: Friday is a big night for you.

Graves: We’re releasing our debut record.

Trufant: All of us recorded it in Austin.

Borniak: Two days.

Graves: Two eight-hour days. Seven songs.

Trufant: It’s our debut release. It’s definitely meant to be listened to all in a row, like some songs bleed into others. It’s got a couple of instrumentals and a lot of singers, a reggae awesome surprise in the middle.

TDR: How long had you been working on the album?

Trufant: There are songs from the years before [the members met] and some as close as the last year.

Borniak: We have like 20 or 30 songs we could have chosen, but we chose these because we felt like they go together.

Graves: They fit very well together. They flow really well together and the record definitely is meant to be listened to from top to bottom. It sounds very cohesive that way, almost like it tells a tale. It’s a logical progression the way the music moves. The record makes sense.

TDR: Do you see this as a big progression for the band?

Borniak: It’s been a long process. I don’t want to jinx anything and say this is our skyrocket, but we’ve been waiting for this for a while so we can give it to people. There’s definitely going to be more people.

Graves: It’s well produced. We had some really brilliant engineers that we worked with for this. It’s exciting. We’ve never heard music of our own sound as good as this. In a way, it’s good that we played so hard and so much and for so long before we went into cut an official debut record because we went in there and sounded really tight and good. Like we’re seasoned at playing together.

Trufant: We want this [Friday] to be our biggest show. We’ve got lots of merchandise for people. The first 250 people get a free copy of the album with their cover.

Levee Daze’s debut was recorded in Austin, Texas at Eastern Suns Studios. Prior to the release of “Levee Daze,” the band’s biggest event was a performance at last year’s Groovin’ on the Grounds alongside acts like Yelawolf, Lupe Fiasco and Grace Potter. The band’s show at Chelsea’s Cafe will have a $7 cover. Music will begin at 10 p.m. with local act Machete. Levee Daze’s performance will feature accompaniment by other local musicians, including Ben Herrington from Minos the Saint, Captain Green and Chris Polk of Speakeasy. - The Daily Reveille


Still working on that hot first release.



Levee Daze was first conceived in 2010 by three college freshman at LSU. John Trufant (Brevard, NC), Dom DeJuilio (Chicago, IL) and Andrew Borniak (Chicago, IL) crossed paths in a jazz class, exchanged information, and began jamming. A drummer was soon added by way of mutual friends, but then left the band as gigs began to pick up. As if by destiny, John met Scott Graves (Austin, TX) in an English class early in 2012, and music immediately spurred their conversations along. They exchanged information, and Graves was quickly ushered in as the group's new drummer. The four musicians have since roared their way into the festive Baton Rouge funk scene, becoming one of the prominent local names with features in magazines and newspapers. Local notoriety has fueled the band's travels as well; they frequently tour the southeast region of the United States, finding success and new fans as close to home as New Orleans and as far as Asheville, NC. A myriad of thrilling gigs has only boosted the band's morale - opening for Grace Potter and Lupe Fiasco in April 2013 and a spot at a showcase at the House of Blues New Orleans, to name a few. Their debut record, Levee Daze, was recorded in Austin, TX at Eastern Sun Studios in January 2014 and released in March 2014 to much success, with radio play in Louisiana, North Carolina, and Colorado.

Band Members