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Get inside March Madness with SI.com's Luke Winn in the Tourney Blog, a daily journal of college basketball commentary, on-site reporting and reader-driven discussions.
3/14/2007 06:56:00 PM

Killing Time with Kendall

Levon Kendall
Levon Kendall (left) and the third-seeded Panthers face 14th-seeded Wright State on Thursday.
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- We're all just killing time now until the games begin at 12:20 p.m. Thursday. Filling out our last pool sheets (the Blog Pool is up to 521 teams, and there's still time to get in on the action). That, or trying to find good restaurants in this Buffalo fog (any suggestions, commenters?). My last act at the arena on Wednesday was to interview Pitt's Levon Kendall, a player who appeared in the Style Archive, but whom I never had a chance to chat up during the regular season.

Kendall's Panthers are playing Wright State in the first-round nightcap at HSBC Arena -- an upset special in plenty of brackets other than mine -- but I wanted to ask him about a non-basketball-related topic. Last year's Tourney Blog featured a few musical interludes, and Kendall has All-American (or rather, All-Canadian) level connections to the music world.

His dad, Simon Kendall, was the keyboardist in Doug and the Slugs, who were a Canadian alt-pop powerhouse in the 1980s -- giving Levon the distinction of being the only college hoopster to have spent considerable time in the touring family of a north-of-the-border band. "It was pretty catchy, feel-good '80s Canadian rock," Levon told me of the Slugs' product. "I have a lot of good memories from when I was younger, running around backstage and through the crowds at concerts, with my sisters and other kids of the band members."

Levon said the Slugs were not rowdy -- "They were all family guys by the time I came around" -- but they did have a couple of gold records, and he still puts on their albums occasionally. "There's one song called Tropical Rainstorm that's sort of slower, and I don't think it was one of their hits, but that caught my attention recently," he said.

In the interest of educating my readers on the Slugs, I've teamed up with the mp3 blog Art Decade, which is run by a few friends in New York and specializes in often-rare tracks from the "Long Seventies" (1966-84). They didn't have Tropical Rainstorm, but are hosting the Slugs' greatest hit Too Bad, which appeared on the wonderfully named album Cognac and Bologna and was also the theme song from Norm MacDonald's The Norm Show. Go check out Art Decade, grab the song and play it while you're reading the rest of the Blog. Consider it an unofficial soundtrack.

Kendall's other musical connection is that he was named for the drummer in The Band, Levon Helm -- and Kendall, an amateur pianist, loves playing The Weight. "My parents bought me one of The Band's greatest hits CDs when I was in high school, and I got turned on to them then," Kendall said. "I figured I might as well know some of my namesake's songs."

The Tourney Blog is a huge fan of Scorsese's The Last Waltz, and the only mild regret I have about being on the road this weekend for the NCAAs (first in Buffalo, then on to Chicago) is missing Helm's shows at the Beacon Theater. Another music-blogging friend over at Glide Magazine's Hidden Track has tickets, and was kind enough to write up a full preview in collaboration with this post.

Kendall said his some of his parents' resourceful friends came to New York to see Pitt in the Big East tournament last week, and then caught one of Helm's Midnight Ramble shows up in Woodstock on the same trip. "They were calling it 'The Levon Weekend,'" he said, laughing.

Such a double-dip won't be possible between Buffalo and the Upper West Side. At the same time his namesake will be raging at the Beacon on Saturday night, Kendall could be helping lead the Panthers into the Sweet 16.

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posted by Luke Winn | View comments |


Posted: March 14, 2007 8:55 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Dudley Do-right is poised to have a big tournament.
Posted: March 15, 2007 7:19 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Panos on Elmwood Ave in the city is excellent.
Posted: March 15, 2007 10:42 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Find the Anchor Bar, where the original "Buffalo Wings" came from.
Posted: March 15, 2007 3:07 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
the Malamut has some good eats and its walking distance from the arena...If you want wings, try La Nova as they are the best in town (sorry Anchor Bar, your wings are small and sauce is oh so weak)
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