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Sandra Okamoto: Singer/songwriter Allen Levi says “Rivertown” songs can only be sung in Columbus

Years ago, Allen Levi was an attorney in Columbus. He decided to pursue something he loved, and that was music.

So he moved to his family’s farm in Harris County, where he writes his songs and records them in his home studio.

Allen travels a lot, performing all over the country.

It’s been three years since he performed in the Bill Heard Theatre. In the past 12 years, he’s done just four public performances; the rest have been private. He’s performing tonight through Saturday in the Springer Opera House.

“I kind of took time off to work on this concert,” he said. The concert, “Rivertown,” features songs about the Valley area. They all have stories connected to the songs.

“These are songs I can only sing in Columbus,” he said. “These are songs I have not sung, literally for 10 years.”

Even with the economy as it is, Allen is amazed that people “still pay the guy with the guitar to sing to them.”

He said 2010 was a very good year for performances and 2011 is right on track to be as good.

“I wanted to play at home,” he said. “We’ll see if anyone shows up. I’m cautiously optimistic.

“I want to have a sold-out show. The nicest thing I can do is to have someone sitting on your left and someone on your right.”

Accompanying him are Justin Belew and Dewayne Creswell on keyboards. Belew plays banjo, bass, accordion, violin, viola, pennywhistle and percussion.

The three of them have been rehearsing several hours a day. Last Friday, Allen was jubilant because they were able to do it in “real time.”

“We’ve worked real hard on the monologue. To me, it felt great. I’m excited about it.”

He calls the Springer a great venue.

“‘Rivertown’ is all about stories and the Springer is all about telling stories,” he said. “The Springer feels like it’s the right place.”

Allen said he’s found the right balance of music and work. Last summer, he said he stayed home June through August and worked outside.

He’s become an avid gardener and beekeeper. He and his brother, Gary, who lives on the property, along with their parents, planted 1,000 blueberry bushes. And they have 150 acres of pasture to keep up with.

“I’m always doing something,” he said. “I’ve found a pleasant balance between indoor work and outdoor work; brain work and back work.”

While he says he loves Columbus, he’s fallen in love with Harris County. He reads to children every week and holds Bible study in his chapel once a week.

And every morning, he and Gary can be found at Harris County High School, greeting every student.

“At first I’m sure they thought we were weird, but now, they expect us to be there. It’s a fabulous way to start the day. We let them know that we love them and we say ‘hello’.

“It’s a great life.”

Allen will be recording all three shows at the Springer. For what, he’s not sure, but he’s still hoping to have one of his shows aired on Georgia Public Broadcasting.

He’ll be 55 on May 24.

“Every year gets better,” he said. “I feel aches and pains, and I wish I could do something about that, but I’m just thankful.”

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