Tag Archives: Levon Helm

 

tell_the_onesRecorded and produced by Larry Campbell at Levon Helm’s studio in Woodstock, New York, Tell The Ones I Love offers up traditional bluegrass with just the right amount of genre blending. Bluegrass fans
know that the Steep Canyon Rangers are one of the most acclaimed and accomplished modern ensembles. But not since the Country Gentlemen revived traditional bluegrass in the 1970s has there been a band with the same level of instrumental proficiency and mainstream recognition. On the heels of their grammy-winning album, Nobody Knows You (Rounder Records, 2012), the band doesn’t  break form on this album.

The Steep Canyon Rangers have always pushed – but never broken – the envelope of traditional bluegrass. Perhaps that’s what makes them so appealing. Whether it’s their collaborations with Steve Martin, or on this album the inclusion of percussionist Jeff Sipe (Leftover Salmon, Susan Tedeschi, Aquarium Rescue Unit), these guys take just enough risks to keep things interesting, but not enough to scare away the purists. “Mendocino County Blues” has an upbeat tempo and melodic riffs that’ll leave your foot tapping and hands clapping. Songs like “Camellia” sound like they may have been dug up from some reels of old recordings of The Band  laying around Levon’s studio!

The Rangers first impressed Helm with their playing at one of his famed Midnight Rambles and he invited them to record at his studio. Considering the Ranger
s are so well known for their live performances, producer Larry Campbell (Bob Dylan and Levon Helm) encouraged the band to recreate that energy on the recording. They succeeded. If you’re looking for progressive “newgrass” this might not be the album for you. But if you want high caliber musicians playing traditional bluegrass with just a tinge of pop-country vocals, some western swing, and even a few drum tracks, you won’t be disappointed.

 

Tell The Ones I Love is out now on Rounder Records

 

Levon Helm (May 26, 1940 – April 19, 2012)

It was with great sadness that many read the official message posted on Levon Helm’s website today. It reads: “Levon Helm passed peacefully this afternoon. He was surrounded by family, friends and band mates and will be remembered by all he touched as a brilliant musician and a beautiful soul.”

The statement was as understated as Levon was, just as he would have written it himself though one can safely surmise that the late drummer — who gained early notoriety from his work in The Band — would have left out the “brilliant” part in regards to his own musicianship. He would have been wrong, but that was the humility that made him who he was.

George Porter, Jr. once said that the drummer’s role is to be the driver of the groove and nobody drove it like Levon Helm.

But Levon Helm was not just an ordinary musician. There was something deep within him (that surfaced in that smile) that made the people around him better and the players that were on stage with him shine brighter than they had the night before.

It was in his post The Band years, that his abilities to bring out the best in others was fully realized.

In what would become a major part of his legacy, Helm began hosting “Rambles” primarily due to the fact that he needed to stay at home and was also in need of money to help with medical bills that had come as a result of a throat cancer diagnosis.

Over the years, the list of artists who joined in on the now famous Rambles grew to a list that is too long to name, including: Hot Tuna, Garth Hudson (The Band), Gillian Welch, Elvis Costello, Emmylou Harris, Dr. John, Kris Kristofferson, Phil Lesh, Chris Robinson, Allen Toussaint, Grace Potter and many more.

Over the last five years, Levon was seen more than he had been in quite some time. He showed up at Bonnaroo and moe.down with Bob Weir in 2008 and 2011, respectively. His band with daughter Amy Helm and Larry Campbell, Teresa Williams, Jim Weider, Jimmy Vivino, Mike Merritt, Brian Mitchell, Erik Lawrence, Steven Bernstein, Howard Johnson, Byron Isaacs, and Little Sammy Davis played the Beacon Theatre and guests like Warren Haynes showed up to pay respect for the statesman. It was as though he knew that his time was now short and that although his voice was as good as it had been in 15 years, he would soon be embarking on the greatest journey of them all, leaving the rest of us behind… heartbroken but grateful.

 

On April 17, the following statement was issued via Levon Helm’s website:

Dear Friends,

Levon is in the final stages of his battle with cancer. Please send your prayers and love to him as he makes his way through this part of his journey.

Thank you fans and music lovers who have made his life so filled with joy and celebration… he has loved nothing more than to play, to fill the room up with music, lay down the back beat, and make the people dance! He did it every time he took the stage…

We appreciate all the love and support and concern.

From his daughter Amy, and wife Sandy

 

On April 18, Garth Hudson posted a video of himself playing “Knocking on Heaven’s Door” (see below) on his website, stating that he was “too sad for words.”

 

On April 19th, Mark Lavon “Levon” Helm passed away, leaving a legacy that will live on for generations to come. He was 71 years old.

 

Levon Helm

May 26, 1940 – April 19, 2012

Ramble in Peace

 

 

 

What goes around comes around : moe.down 2011

moe_down2011-17.jpgLabor Day is set aside to reward the hard-toiling members of America’s workforce, but somebody seems to have forgotten to tell the band moe. For 12 years now, they’ve spent Labor Day weekend hosting the giant party known as moe.down to thank to their dedicated fans, the moe.rons.

Held in upstate New York where the band formed and found their over two-decade-old voice, this year marked the second in its current location just outside of Mohawk, NY in the shadows of the Gelston Castle ruins overlooking the valley below that, for the weekend, is filled with eager music fans looking to celebrate the conclusion of the summer season in style, dance and song.

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