Levon Helm & My Fortunate Self...

I have had some pretty tremendous experiences in my life, to date, and hopefully many more to come. If asked, I'd have to say one of my favorites is a combination of the few times we (with my own band and with a band of fellow radio station employees) were invited to open for the extraordinary Levon Helm at his "Midnight Ramble" in Woodstock, N.Y. I won't bore you with the details of how this came about, actually I might... but it all roots from Levon's friendship with Don Imus, and Imus' affiliation with our radio station.

Quick Background:

Him-  For those of you who don't know who Levon Helm is, look it up, I don't have all day to sit here and tell you about all the people you need to know about! I'm kidding...in brief, he's the man who single handedly formed "THE BAND," but there's so much more to him and his story is one to be read, I recommend the autobiography "This Wheel's On Fire." These days Levon and his band of UNREAL musicians perform regularly at his barn in Woodstock, these shows are known as "Midnight Rambles." They also take the show on the road from time to time. This "unreal" band consists of Larry Campbell, Mike Merritt, Jim Weider, sometimes Jimmy Vivino, and a TON of other extremely talented people.

Me- My day job is at a NYC radio station, for which there is a "house band" consisting of fellow employees. We play covers, and usually gig twice yearly for Holiday events related to said radio station.  My knowledge of The Band was gained through my interest in Bob Dylan, and I consider myself a fan...a big fan.

My Experience:

We were first asked to open for Levon in Woodstock a couple of years ago.  Assume I was thrilled. Eventually, this led to me filling a slot with my own band last May. Assume I was even more thrilled. The experience was nail biting, but mostly exciting and a high point in my life.  My one regret might be that it happened too soon, and I would love to go back with my band as a more experienced performer (ie: when I put my new record out? anybody?) but there is no true regret. It was an opportunity you don't pass up.  Regardless, on all occasions,  the display of kindness from his staff, the sound in his barn, and the sheer talent of his band alone are 3 of many fine reasons to make your way out to Woodstock for a Ramble.  We had the chance to hang out after the show and chat each time, and as it turns out, Levon is one of the kindest, most generous people I have ever met. Sure his home may be a veritable death trap when departing in snowfall, but well worth the experience. I have a small fear of meeting the people who inspire me, very small in fact, seeing as I've met a handful of them, but a fear nonetheless. The fear is that their character will jade my feelings. In this case, the character strengthened the inspiration. AND as an added bonus, sitting behind Levon during his set taught me to truly appreciate drumming. Something I have had trouble with for awhile.

The Point of it all (in two parts):

A. The radio band, nameless at the moment, is opening a charity event that Imus is hosting at Mohegan Sun...The event is called "Imus at Night - A Night Of Comedy on April 8th" which only mildly concerns me as I wonder "does our little company cover band fall under the 'comedy' portion of the evening?" and the ticket sales go to benefit The Imus Ranch for Kids with Cancer.  Levon Helm & his band are headlining. Needless to say, I'm fortunate that our paths continue to cross, and if anything is to gain, it's simply that I get to see another great show from a great band, lead by a great man.

B. The inspiration behind this post, is a video floating around "the internet" today. Levon, in 1993 on Conan...great performance & a great interview. I watched this and said to myself..."what a kick ass beard!" then I said "two of my favorite entertainers!" and then I said "Eureka! I'll post this on my blog!"

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jxsCvZoQs4&feature=player_embedded]

Just for kicks:  This photo is amazing...

See you soon.

-M