Inspiration from the Delta: Levon Goes Home for Dirt Farmer
Levon Helm's first record in more than a decade, Dirt Farmer, will be released to the public on October 30, through Dirt Farmer Music LLC in conjunction with Vanguard Records. Levon sings and plays drums, guitar and mandolin on the CD, accompanied by Larry Campbell on guitars and fiddle, and the voices of Amy Helm and Teresa Williams. The record explores songs Levon learned as a boy in Arkansas and others in that style.
"Growing up on a cotton farm in the Arkansas Delta, Dirt Farmer rings true to home," Levon said. "Amy encouraged me to go all the way back and try to record some of the family songs from home that we always loved best."
The record reveals the essential beauty of traditional songs like "Little Birds" and the Stanley Brothers' "False Hearted Lover Blues," and takes a new look at Paul Kennerley's "A Train Robbery," Buddy and Julie Miller's "Wide River To Cross" and another sentimental favorite, Lauralyn Dossett's "Anna Lee."
Levon said: "'The Girl Left Behind' was one of the first songs my parents taught me as a child, along with 'Little Birds' and 'Blind Child.' 'The Poor Old Dirt Farmer' is a song that my wood-carver musician friend Michael Copus and I learned together when we worked with Jane Fonda on The Dollmaker down in Tennessee. 'Single Girl, Married Girl' is one of my favorite songs of the whole session. It gave us the chance to address a traditional standard with the entire rhythm section using non-electric instruments and a full set of drums. It also gave us the chance to monkey up the rhythm of a traditional country beat."
The tracks are elevated by the musicianship of Brian Mitchell on piano and accordion, Byron Isaacs on bass, Glenn Patscha on pump organ and George Receli's percussion. Buddy and Julie Miller contribute backing vocals on Steve Earle's "The Mountain."
--Levon Helm Studios, August 2007