A month after Levon Helm’s death, the legendary Midnight Ramble concert series held at his home studio in Woodstock, N.Y., returned Saturday night with performances from friends and fellow musicians. The show marked what would have been the 72nd birthday of the longtime drummer of The Band. Helm died April 19 after a long battle with cancer.
Since the series began in 2004, A-list musicians have made the trip to Helm's barn in the Catskills to perform at Rambles, including Elvis Costello, Emmylou Harris, Robert Earl Keen, Norah Jones, and 2012 Rock 'n' Roll Rumble winners Bow Thayer & Perfect Trainwreck. At Saturday's tribute, two guests made appearances, the Lovin' Spoonful's John Sebastian and folk musician Happy Traum.
This morning, Helm's manager Barbara O'Brien thanked fans on his Facebook page:
Thank you, all, for your wonderful posts and comments to us about the show Saturday night. It was definitely a night filled with a rollercoaster of emotions. I lost track of how many times I cried. It's going to take some getting used to, but this is what he wants us to do. He wants us to keep it going and that's what we're going to do. In my heart and in my soul, it WAS always and it WILL always be about Levon and what he wants. Thank you so much for all your support - then and now. As we all made this the success it became over the last 10 years, we WILL continue to make all his dreams come true. You're all as tenacious as I am! With much love - Barbara.
Last year, Helm released "Ramble at the Ryman," a live album recorded at the famed Ryman Auditorium in Nashville during a traveling version of the Ramble. The record won a Grammy for best Americana album. Check out this version of The Band's "Ophelia" from that concert:
In this clip, Helm explains the origins of the Midnight Rambles, his struggle to regain his voice after enduring throat cancer, and how it led to "Dirt Farmer," which won a Grammy for best traditional folk album:
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ContributorsSarah Rodman is a staff music critic for the Boston Globe.
James Reed is a staff music critic for the Boston Globe.
Jonathan Perry is the Globe's Scene & Heard columnist, covering local music.
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