This past Thursday – April 19, 2012 – was a very sad day.
The day Mr. Levon Helm lost his battle with cancer.
The Los Angeles Times ran a very nice obituary on Friday…
“…his approach to music throughout his life was “The W.S. Walcott Medicine Show,” an ode to the kind of freewheeling gatherings in which the musician, who died of cancer Thursday at 71 in New York, thoroughly reveled.
When your arms are empty, got nowhere to go
Come on out and catch the show
There’ll be saints and sinners you’ll see losers and winners
All kinds of people you might want to know”
…while reading it I was taken back a few years – to May 2008, in fact.
To my experience at Levon’s Midnight Ramble.
From the Ramble’s website:
“A gracious host, Levon invites you to his home studio in Woodstock, N.Y… Inside “The Barn,” which is really a large recording studio attached to Levon’s home, you’ll see a stage, a cozy fireplace and plenty of seating. The ambiance of the place will give you a feeling that is personal and intimate, casual and friendly, and you know you are about to be part of something very special.”
Very special, indeed!
I went with my music pals, M&E, to Woodstock for a Ramble.
Here’s the outside of the “Barn”:
And here are my pals, next to the sign that is the very bane of my existence:
“No Cameras” – how I HATE those words!
I knew that was the rule of the Ramble, so I didn’t take with me my good camera. I took along a little point and shoot – in case it was confiscated, or in case I was told to leave it in the car. And even though I got inside with it, I didn’t dare try to take any pictures during the show.
We were seated so close to Levon, that M (who was seated on the aisle) might have stretched out and touched the drum kit, if he had wanted to!
The Ramble was AWESOME. Levon seemed to have the energy of a 30-year old man, and his nonstop grin lit up the room. The band was tight and incredible and everyone was having a blast – especially the players. Especially the audience.
Froggy was excited about having his picture taken with a couple of the Helmland Security men.
I was kind of hoping to loosen them up so I could sneak a picture or two.
(Now, I totally get it. No one wants flashes during a show, or people standing to to take pictures. But does a discreet snap or two really hurt anyone?)
No, I didn’t take any pictures during that magical performance. But here are a couple I grabbed as the players were leaving the room.
Daughter Amy Helm waving from the drum kit:
And here, you can see a bit more of the barn, and of the upstairs loft:
I always meant to go see another Ramble. It didn’t really occur to me that time was so fleeting…
I am proud to have this Elliott Landy original photograph hanging on my wall:
Isn’t it remarkable and bitterly sad that those three charming, handsome, talented young men on the left are no longer rambling around on this Earth??
Thankfully their music will live on forever and forever.
I know some of us are in The Helm camp – some in The Robertson camp – when it comes to The Last Waltz and the bitter feud that followed… I am simply in The Band camp.
Happy, thankful to have photographs to gaze upon, movies to watch, music in my soul, memories to cherish… I close today with: