The Leon Lewis Band
by L. M. Levin

"Music is the only thing we know. Music is our lives. We do it because we must. That’s just the way it is."

Childhood friends Jackie and Lee form The Leon Lewis Band in the 1960s out of a common love and talent for all things musical. They find great success in the studio and on the stage with songs that capture the social and political upheaval of the times. They also forge lasting friendships and familial bonds with band members and an entourage of fans and acolytes. Levin chronicles the lives of these musicians with this first-person account narrated by founding member Jackie Klein, a Brooklyn boy who leaves his chaotic but lively neighborhood behind for a life on the road with his beloved band. Historical detail and a cast of characters combine to tell this story of music, love, politics, and friendship.

Jam-packed with social commentary, music appreciation, family drama, and romance, Levin doesn’t just tell the story of the band but also the story of a time period and its impact on the individual lives of the musicians. Ultimately, Levin celebrates community and connection in this sprawling musical journey. Levin’s journalistic style of writing captures the geographical details of the band’s odyssey from New York to California as well as Europe and Central America. This kind of observational reporting creates a documentary style account as if a camera is following the band on the road and beyond. The story never wavers into the clichéd tale of rock-n-roll debauchery or the careening tragic downfall of a band and its demons. While sex and drugs are on the periphery as well as an intriguing subplot involving Lee’s romantic partner, the spotlight is focused mostly on the band’s growth and success through the decades. Fans of Jersey Boys or The Commitments will find much to love in this story of a band and its rise to success.

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