Sunday, March 9, 2008


 I was fortunate enough to catch Levon Helm's recent concert at the Beacon Theater, thanks to a good friend who hooked me up with a ticket. It was a great show, and one that was inspiring in a few ways.  After facing down throat cancer - which threatened not only his life, but also his singing voice  - and bankruptcy, now he's playing great, singing wonderfully and pulling in huge crowds.  He's playing music that matters to him, without any nods to whatever is current or "hip," and he went from a guy who couldn't pull huge crowds to a guy who can sell out two nights at the Beacon, and he did so without the help of the music industry. 

Friday night's show was great. His band includes a number of great musicians, including guitarist Larry Cambpell (who produced Levon's excellent new album Dirt Farmer) - like Levon, a former member of Bob Dylan's band, and guitarist Jimmy Vivino of The Max Weinberg 7. The horn section was great, and more New Orleans-y than Late Night-y. 

They played a bunch of Band songs, but didn't rely on just those songs. They opened with "Ophelia," and also played "Rag Mama Rag," "Chest Fever" and "The Weight," along with a few others. Plus some Dylan covers like "It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry" (one of my favorites) and "I Shall Be Released." But over the course of the night, blues, country, folk, R&B were all represented. I was really blown away by the show. I think I've got to get up to Woodstock to catch one of his Midnight Rambles. 

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