The Helm & Weider Gangs took no prisoners up at Sackets Harbor yesterday. Have to admit the afternoon of music started a bit slow due to weather, and a huge area in front of the stage that was off limits to the general public. By the time Jimmy, Rando, Carl & Dan from the Jim Weider
Band took the stage the weather began to clear and the crowd was forming about 150 feet from the front of the stage. The crowd was being held back by wood barriers, state & local police from an area reserved for show sponsors only. Have to give Butch credit for straightening this injustice out. He did what he had to do. All of a sudden I saw him running through the sponsor area with the head of the festival, removing all the barricades, and having the police security dismissed. The crowd swarmed in to about 10,000 strong. Then the music got hot. The guys had appreciative fans to play to. They were feeding off each other. An amazing sight.
Next it was the Barn Burners. You can tell that Helm and the boys were there to play and it was gonna be a good one. The crowd was wild and fired up, and the BB's were giving their all back. There was dancing , singing, air guitar, air harp, and of course air drums in a sea of fans stretching form the stage 400 yards back to the shores of Lake Ontario under a spectacular laser light show.
The finale jam was the clencher. Helm and the BB's, Weider and his guys, Albert Lee and Dave Edmunds also on guitars. The jam went on for an hour or more through 4 encores. No one wanted to leave, crowd or muscians. The two crowd favorites it seemed were all the musicans joining together and doing "The Weight" and "Don't Do It" My favorite sight of the night was watching Rando and Levon smiling and playing to each other, side by side, driving the beat. Haven't seen that since 1997.
As Butch always says... Shoulda... Coulda... been there.
--Joe Lore, The Band guestbook, June 16, 2002