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Ashland music producer keeps tunes coming

Technology that allows music to be transported instantly over vast distances lets music producer Bret Levick of Ashland work with musicians from across the country, as well as those in the Rogue Valley.

Levick's list of clients illustrates the kinds of music he produces. He's worked for Doritos (Frito-Lay), HBO, the National Football League and Major League Baseball, Midway Games, and Apple Computer. Locally, he's produced the jingle for the ScienceWorks Museum and television station KOBI.

Levick, 45, started his career as a performing musician. In the 1990s, his band, Gift Horse, was on the charts for three weeks. Through the end of 1999 and the beginning of 2000, the band looked like it might be the next big thing. Entertainment publications compared Gift Horse to the likes of Lenny Kravitz, David Bowie, Stone Temple Pilots and John Lennon, according to the site www.pinchhit.com/PHwebsite/GiftHorse.

"It was my three weeks of fame," he said.

It didn't last, and in 2004 Levick moved with his family to Grants Pass from Los Angeles for family reasons.

"I didn't know anyone there," Levick said. He spent the next five years producing 20 CDs and honing his skills.

He recently moved to Ashland, where he reconnected with an old friend and bandmate, Dirk Price.

"I knew Dirk from a band in the '80s in L.A.," he said.

To produce the music that's been heard on shows such as "American Idol" or a Nissan commercial, the musicians almost never get together like an ordinary band format to play together.

A typical project session works like this: Levick receives a request for a certain style of music. Price comes over to listen to some ideas and they create a basic song form with some guitar and percussion.

From there, other musicians expand the basic piece. Local players come to Levick's home studio to record. He's worked with Jeff Pevar, Greg Frederick, Dirk Price, Frankie Hernandez and Cornflower.

Others get a copy of the tune by e-mail and make their contributions.

"There's a keyboardist in L.A.," Levick said he likes to work with.

The arrangement "lets you find the right talent for the job," said Frederick, best known for his work with the Rogue Suspects.

Working independently also allows the musicians to choose when they sit down to record, said Dirk Price, another Suspect, who likes to make his contributions to the tunes when he feels most creative.

For the "American Idol" pieces, one of Levick's distributors licensed the tracks "Date With My Demise," an indie-rock sound produced solo by Levick, and "Freak Train," in which Price and Greg Frederick contributed bass and guitar. They pieces can be heard on the Season Eight (2009) episodes 2, 3, 5, 6 and 7.

His dream is to score a film. "I've done most of the other stuff," he said.

Levick's commercial music is generally not available on a CD, but some of it can be downloaded on iTunes and other music-downloading sites because people will hear a catchy tune and want to have it.

"It's silly not to have it available," he said

To learn more about Levick and his work, visit the Web site at: www.banghardmusic.com/CV.html.

Dawn Hatchard is a freelance writer living in Gold Hill.

Reach her at dhatchard@gmail.com.