Their sway-inducing performances make for one of Charlottesville's brightest gigs...---C'Ville Weekly
These guys know their island music...---C'Ville Weekly
Chris Leva and the Guano Boys are earning their reputation as one of the most danceable bands in town, with a musical soup chock full of ska, reggae, and calypso spices...---C'Ville Weekly
Last year, Leva spent a considerable amount of time in a state of the art studio in Charlottesville, recording much more than a demo tape of his songs.
The [music] that came out of the sessions, is, in two words, a killer. If you want to skim the surface, you could say it is reggae music that rates with the best of the genre.
If you listen a little more carefully, you'll hear a connection to the mountains and the rest of the world.
Listening carefully enough to hear all that is no trouble at all.
Leva has a way of writing music that slides into your mind just as easily as a warm summer night slides into Rockbridge County.
Leva and the band of musicians he put together for the sessions are neither slouches nor musical prima donnas. They are all good enough and confident enough to not feel any need to impress anyone, and are all the more impressive for that.
What ties all of the music together...is a rock solid, irresistible beat, some incredible solo bursts of gently brain-biting guitar, rain-on-the-roof marimba and steel drums, smooth as can be saxophones, and Leva's voice, which is as real as the music.
There is nothing to date [the song, track 5] I Just Don't Know. It could have been lost in a monastery in a lonesome hollow for a few hundred years, or dropped on a city street by a UFO in time for the news tomorrow.
All those words are set to a tune that is as intense as music can be without scaring anyone and without losing a certain danceability.
From that song, and others on the tape, it is obvious that Leva has learned the fine art of writing solid dance tunes that actually say something with music and lyrics that are soothing and provoking at the same time.
Not many modern songwriters have been able to do that.
...the tunes are tied to something bigger than today's musical whims, which is part of why they stick with you and sound better with each listening. When the disc finally does hit the shelves, treat yourself to it. Or better yet, go hear Leva and his band live the next time they play here.
---Doug Harwood,Open Ear
Being a non- Rastafarian all-white reggae band isn't an easy thing to pull off. Serious fans of the medium might be predisposed to question your "groove," as it were, so success or failure tends to rest on your capacity to faithfully represent the stripped-down Jamaican idioms without succumbing to washed out rock clichés. I am happy to report that the Guanos handle the task admirably, dicing up a healthy spread of traditional roots flavors, and island grooviness.
Head honcho Chris Leva will be be remembered from his work with T'aint and Token Jones and occasional guest spots with the Hogwaller Ramblers, but his Guano Boys have long been garnering accolades from regional acoustic and reggae fans. This version of the band - although occasionally veering almost too close to cheesiness with some Love Boat-ish calypso-style action - is definitely fit to party to.
Hornman Andy Rowland (former Secret frontman) and Nate Hawkes (of recent Full Flavor projects) did stellar jobs trading up sweet solo spots on the alto and baritone saxes respectively. Dave Grant worked the upright bass like it was designed to play authentic roots reggae, and Spencer Lathrop (now with the Hogwaller Ramblers) showed his devotion to Jamaica's sparse Africanized rhythms with a finesse few percussionists can muster. No shit, the Guanos are a reggae band your mom and your Rastafarian weed connection could happily groove to.
---Crispy Duck - C-ville Weekly (Starr Hill Music Hall review)
last updated Feb. 22, 2005