The Highland Ramble-Levon Helm comes to Rochester

Levon HelmLevon HelmOne of the great surprises of Levon Helm's Midnight Ramble at his home studio in Woodstock was finding Larry Campbell was the guitarist, and (presumably) his band leader.

The other great surprise was that the music was better than I ever imagined.

I'm speaking as of a huge fan of The Band. It never occurred to me that Levon and his band could match the Southern Pine/Canadian rock The Band had at the top of their game. I underestimated Levon, and his band.

A while back I mentioned the impact a venue can have on a show. In the case of the Midnight Ramble, the venue is undeniable. Levon's own home recording studio. Made for sound. Small, intimate, impeccable. The audience is part of the show, virtually on stage with the musicians.

Still, the music has to be right.
Larry CampbellLarry Campbell
I had seen Larry Campbell play solo acoustic guitar pieces a few years earlier. He had released a solo cd of instrumentals called "Rooftops", and played a number of tunes from that in a small outdoor tent. It is a beautiful record. His live versions were better.

Mr. Campbell also produced Levon's daughter's, band's, Olabelle, cd. Amy Helm and Olabelle performed as well, and Amy joined her dad for his extended set.

This band matched The Band on stage. Horns, female singers, bass, keyboards, accordion, great songs, and, most importantly, Levon strong in voice, and lifting the music with his drums. From duets on mandolin (Nothing like a father/daughter country duet), to full blown horns on "Ophelia".

Levon HelmLevon HelmLevon is at Highland Bowl on July 12 at 4 pm. I assume his touring band features many of the same players as the Ramble. Larry Campbell will be there playing with Phil Lesh. Good chance he'll be on with Levon, too, I imagine.

The Ramble is a one-of-a-kind listening experience. There is nothing else like it. Levon, and the music of The Band, also one-of-a-kind. His voice is still vital and the songs resonate. The Ramble is in Woodstock, this may be the next best thing, and, possibly, the last best chance to hear him in Rochester.



A survivor

Scott, just in case readers haven't heard about it, Helm's latest album, Dirt Farmer, made at the barn studio, is really good. His voice was still rough on many songs. He is recovering from throat cancer, and wasn't expected to sing again at all. We're lucky to have one of those voices still with us. And that drumming! A promotional film for the album is on Youtube, and Larry Campbell appears in that. Anyway, thanks for your post and the groovy sketches.

Great CD

I'm glad you mentioned Dirt Farmer. Thanks. It has a timeless quality to it, and the spirit of Levon throughout.

Levon's Ramble

My son and I have just been to our 4th Ramble in Woodstock. Just like the 1st, 4 years ago, I was grinning ear-to-ear the whole time. It is an absolute must-see event!


Now that you mention it, I think I was grinning, too.