Reviews > Shows
Rambling On with Levon Helm, Sam Bush and Stanton Moore
Levon Helm, at 70 years old, still knows how to throw a party. The veteran drummer and legendary member of The Band, once again gathered an intimate and animated crowd for one of his ongoing Midnight Rambles located at his recording studio and farm up in Woodstock, N.Y.
For the 28th installment of the Midnight Ramble this year- he’s taken the revue-like concert series on the road this year for over 30 dates- Helm invited the Stanton Moore trio with Anders Osborne to open with a 40 minute set and had singer/mandolinist Sam Bush and singer Catherine Russell join him for his.
Moore trio’s, featuring Will Bernard on guitar and Will Blades on keys, played a handful of upbeat, funky instrumentals before inviting Osborne out to lead the group through some of his originals off his latest album, American Patchwork, which Moore co-produced and played on. The wildly bearded singer, whose recovery from heroin addiction is well-documented on his latest album, delivered a range of material. From New Orleans-styled, funky instrumental breakdowns (the group’s final number saw additional support from trumpeter Steve Bernstein and saxophonist Erik Lawerence) to devastating ballads like “Call on Me,” it was a provoking performance from an artist many thought wouldn’t be able to keep it together just a few years ago.
After a set break which allowed the 100-150 or so guests to refill their drinks (there’s a liberal B.Y.O.B. policy but plastic cups are mandatory inside the venue), Helm and his band took the stage. The lineup was a little different this night as regular guitarist Larry Campbell was absent due to what one employee would only describe as a “family tragedy.”
If there was any anxiety or trepidation on the part of the band, it certainly didn’t show over the course of approximately 20 songs. While Helm sung very little lead- his once-powerful singing voice has been greatly reduced after a successful battle with throat cancer fought with radiation- he sang backup quite amiably with Bush (who performed at the previous Ramble early in the month), Russell and regular keyboardist Brian Mitchell.
Highlights from the evening included The Band staples “The Shape I’m In,” “Lonesome Suzie,” “Ophelia,” “It Makes No Difference” and, the somewhat rare, “Up on Cripple Creek.” Bush lead the band through a rousing rendition of Little Feat’s “Dixie Chicken” and Robert Johnson’s old upbeat blues number, “Hot Tamales and the Red Hots”(the song appears on Bush’s recent CD, Circles Around Me). Russell sang lead on the traditional “There’s a Land Beyond the River” which the setlist indicated was Helm’s choice for inclusion.
A partial, if out of order, setlist follows. My Morning Jacket plays an upcoming Ramble on October 16th. Yes, it’s already sold-out.
Shape I’m In
Speak of the Devil (Bush on vocals)
Deep Feeling (Russel on vocals)
Look Out Cleveland
Lonesome Suzie (Mitchell on vocals)
I Don’t Care Who Knows
Hot Tamale and the Red Hots (Bush on vocals)
There’s a Land Beyond the River (Russell on vocals)
Dixie Chicken (Bush on vocals)
It Makes No Difference (Russell on vocals)
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