|Above are two pages about The Band from the
program to the infamous 1970 Festival Express tour in Canada. The
text in the lower photo says:
The Band happen where two Americas meet. It's a strange middle-ground their music evokes. It' a low country, pressed out flat and dry in the wind. It might look a bit like Up-State New York, around Woodstock where where they lived after travelling with Bob Dylam who, after all, discovered them. It resembles in part rural Southern Ontario where most of them are from, Rick Danko, Garth Hudson, Richard Manuel and Robbie Robertson. There's a touch of Arkansas too, brought in by drummer Levon Helm. In all it's an odd stretch of country. But vaguely familiar. Its people have even been forgotten by Nixon's Silent Majority; Dirt farmers, mixing protestantism and ecology; Southern red-necks slowly losing their land; people using the King James Bible as their almanac; strangers seen passing by; old mystics, ex-preachers perhaps, their minds shot with vague fears and retribution. This is a strange stretch of land; and the Band's critics had trouble relating with it. They call what the Band does country music- and forget all their years together with Ronnie Hawkins, when they were called the Hawks and did easy one-nighters up and down Toronto's Younge St. strip. They think the Band's lyrics are contemporaray - and forget the songs with their Biblical references: Nazareth, Moses and Luke, the Golden Calf, King Harvest, the Devil. They think of the Band's sound as antiquated - and forget the elusiveness of Helm's drumming or Robbie Robertson's steely just-perfect solos, Hudson's organ solos that range from Bach to calliope, Danko's jazzy basslines and Richard Manuel's creaky old-aged voice.
By the time the Band had started exploring this country, all of pop had packed its various bags and were heading west. It was psychedelia with the fringe on top for rock groups. The blues experience had begun to dig old blues roots bare. After Super Soul LPs, Jimi Hendrix, and Aretha Franklin, where could anyone go? The Byrds and Dylan were already into western music, but they were virtually alone. The rest of pop was draining itself dry, revamping old riffs, old styles and everything B.B. King had ever played. Suddenly there was the Band, and their Music From Big Pink. In fact their first album said nothing more than that Big Pink was the place they practiced in, and what was that all about? There were no indications of what they were doing beyond all that. "Just music," it said, "just music." Because it was a hit, and because everyone found out about the story of how Bob Dylan - The Bob Dylan - had heard them playing in Atlantic City and has asked them to back him up on his tour, the labels on the Band's music came fast and furious. But how could anyone pin-point such an elusive, allusive target? Impossible! Even after the second album had come out, definitions were few and far between. And everyone was left with a handful of sounds, blues, country, Appalachian folk, white gospel, fuzz rock and backwoods ache. And not much else, leaving the Band's territory wide-open and still unexplored.