Levon Helm & the Barn Burners
Rynborn Blues & Funk Festival, Swanzey, NH, 07.18.2004
Photos and review (from the Band guestbook) by Cobi Zevenhoven
Saturday July 17th: Well, it was a long drive, 11 hours to New Hampshire to be exact. Driving closer and closer to the Green Mountains was tensing me up, and setting me free. Heading into Vermont was like I had died and gone to heaven again. We stopped at an overview look to see one of the most incredible sights I have ever seen. MILES of mountains! Miles! Gorgeous. New Hampshire was just the same. I had a gut feeling that the Rynborn Blues & Funk festival was in the mountains, turns out, we were on one. The festival turned out to be a hippiefest, with lovely people everywhere. As soon as we got there, we opened the cooler, grabbed an ice cold beer, and took it all in. As we were setting up the tent, a couple staff members came by to tell us that they were providing a huge fire for the campers, as well, they had a PA system set up, and for us to bring tunes down. I couldn't believe it. They actually wanted us to party. We took a tour around the hill that we were all camping on and ended up at this site that was pumping out The Last Waltz. Up On Cripple Creek. Well, that was my stop for the night, and the other girls followed. We met many a nice person there and had some good conversations. The fire got going and we met some bikers there. The one man was drinking tequila out of his bottle, with a pure whiskey voice, and the other man has a long beard, long orange hari and an eye patch. Both of them were wearing mexican hats and drinking straight vodka as well. Later on in the night I went with the eye patch guy to fix the tunes. There was BB King and Clapton on our side and Michael Jackson (<--- an outrage) on the other. Buddy with The Last Waltz was pumping the blues, it was great.
Sunday July 18th: We got up around 7am to find a swimming spot. We were told there was a pond around the corner, so we went. Pond? yeah right, this was a Lake in the mountain top!! The water was so calm and the bottom of the water was all sandy. We dipped in for refreshing, then headed out for more beer and ice. When we got back to our campsite, I was pretty much dying at the thought that "Today is the day.. LEVON HELM!" We got to the stage at around 11am, and baked in the sun. Luckily enough, we were able to situate our chairs on the left side of the stage, in front of Pat. There was a band that went on at 11am named The Racky Thomas Band, and they were playing some good tunes, good, but I had my heart set on Levon & the Barn Burners. Soon enough, Pat and Jeff were on the stage helping set up and the next thing I see, LEVON'S DRUMMING RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME!!!!!!! As soon as he saw me dancing up a storm in front of the stage he smiled. He kept smiling. Looking and smiling, at me.. no big deal, right? AT one point during their set, between songs, Levon yelled out and pointed at me with his DRUM STICK, "I KNOW YOU, I REMEMBER YOU!"
Levon shouted out a song to Little Sammy Davis, which to my surprise, ended up with Levon shouting out the words.. SINGING TO ME! You could hear him through all the mics on stage. No big deal, right? I was in heaven!! Yep, Levon Helm, singing right to me. After their set, it rained down tears. Poured and we were soaked. We stayed by the stage in hopes that Pat would come over to say "hello." Well, he came over and called us over to the fence where we could talk. Pat gave us 4 lovely ladies a wonderful introduction/hello. We talked for a couple minutes but Pat and Levon had to get going. While Pat and I were talking, I just glanced over his left shoulder and...
There was LEVON HELM WALKING TOWARDS US TO SAY HELLO!!!!! No big deal, right? Levon was all smiles and grabbed my hand (held it the whole time) and thanked us for coming to the show. I didn't get a chance to really talk to Levon, because they were in a hurry, right after Levon turned his back, he started running back to the truck. Pat's like, "Wow, that's the first time I've ever seen that man run in my life!" So, even though Levon and the Barn Burners were in such a rush, he came over just to say "hello," and thank us, and also give me one of the best compliments of my life. To Alysha and I who were dancing up front, "You girls really lit up the crowd today!" No BIG DEAL, RIGHT???? After the fire was gone, I was able to relax somewhat, besides the fact that "Levon Helm" was running through my mind every 5 minutes, and everything that had happened. I didn't get a chance to tell Levon or Pat that we were going into Woodstock the next day, oh well.
Monday July 19th: We left Swanzey really early and drove a few hours to Woodstock, NY. We drove around for awhile, down Glasco Turnpike, Rick's Road, Striebel Road and onto Stoll Road to find Parnassus Lane. Well, we found it and met the neighbour in the driveway! He was a nice man, and rolled down his window to ask, "Are you girls here to see Big Pink?" We sure are!!! He explained where it was, and that the owners weren't there. Nice guy. So, we drove and there it was. The masterpiece of perfection, Big Pink. I was in aww. I touched the house and it changed my life. A life changing experience. Well, we went back into town and stopped in at the Woodstock Music Store. The first thing I saw was the picture of Levon holding up an instrument.. DRUM! I went into the other room, and had a lovely conversation with the man at the cash. He informed me that, "Levon was in here about 3 weeks ago." I said, "Oh, really, well next time he comes in, tell him the Canadian girls stopped in." And I purchased "Levon Helm on Drums and Drumming." A video I've been dying to have.
We left Woodstock at around 6pm and drove farther and farther away from the Catskills. I burst out crying, because the feeling of driving away, it too much to handle. After driving 14 hours home, I pulled into my driveway yesterday, feeling half past dead at 4am, and woke up at 10am to get ready for work.
I figured the subject of this post was perfect, seeing how I'm Acadian and I was drifting along... Seeing Levon in New Jersey was the best day of my life, this trip to NH, and NY, it was a life changing experience. No big deal? yeah, right.
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