Almost as much as the incredible songs. Or the fluid, flawless musicianship. Or even the coarse, honey-ladled grit of the voice. The smile is wide, full, bright.
It floods the big, log-walled room with pure, dazzling luminescence, like a signal that the angels are about to appear from on high.
And the smile is contagious, finding itself mirrored across the faces of everyone else in the space—the audience, the musicians, even the scrambling, focused soundmen. Some of the greatest American music that ever was, in fact. Which probably just makes them smile all the more themselves, really. Every opportunity to play just means so much more than the last one.
In , Band bassist Rick Danko passed away at the age of With limited funds thanks largely to unfairly structured royalty deals and unable to do the film and voiceover work that had helped to pay the bills, Helm found himself in the precarious position of having to balance the costs of rebuilding his home and workplace with those of the medications and procedures needed to save his voice—and his life.
Understandably, he chose to put most of his available cash into the latter. When told that in some ways he sounds even better than he does on some of his older records, that even Tom Waits might be happy to have the same level of gruff character in his voice, the singer laughs.
While in recovery mode he needed to get his voice back in shape and pay down his debts, but touring was out of the question. So instead of taking the show to the fans, he took a stroke of inspiration from the freewheeling rent parties of his childhood and invited the fans to come hang out at his house. Facilitated by a large crew that calls itself Team Levon, the medicine showlike events sell out weeks in advance and have featured surprise guest appearances by Dr.
At the merch booth, CDs, DVDs, T-shirts, and other items are laid out, while nearby tables are stocked with free snacks and beverages, which will be generously amended to by the many arriving Ramble-goers who bring store-bought and homemade food to share.
Despite the rows of folding chairs and the preponderance of instruments and sound gear set up in the stage area at the opposite end, the space feels more like a massive living room than a recording studio, thanks to its high ceiling and tall stone hearth.
And he could make it sound right. I wanted to get back to the community feeling the music used to have. And the down-and-dirty reading of J. Helm is also about to be a grandfather—for the second time in the space of just a few months.
Peter Aaron is an award-winning journalist experienced in the writing of all types of content, as well as editing and proofreading. He specializes in writing about music and the arts and related promotional material. Contact Peter to discuss your project.