It was a cold, cold night. The Pats had just won at Gillette Stadium against the Tennessee Titans with sub-zero temps in Foxboro. In Woodstock it was not any warmer, but I considered myself lucky to be in a barn in the middle of the woods of NY. Ok, the barn is a renovated studio and the party was thrown by Levon Helm, so it already sounds warmer. Plus they had a huge fireplace that was sending up hot flames all night and into the wee hours. So I'm not complaining... by all means.
Levon was putting the finishing touches on his new studio in Woodstock and he wanted to sing about it - literally. After battling throat cancer, the man who could only whisper last summer is now belting out tunes like "Hail, Hail Rock and Roll" with his band Uncle Remus and the Whole Show (with Johnny Johnson on the keys no less!) So, yes, Levon and everyone in the room wasin a celebrating mood.
Uncle Remus includes Johnson (Chuck Berry) and Levon's daughter, Amy, on mandolin and vocals along with John Smith on sax. Levon's smokey voice and impassioned delivery on "Blues Stay Away From Me" fit like a worn pair of jeans. Levon and Amy did a beautiful rendition of Ray Charles' "What Kind of Man Are You" and a rockin' version of "A Fool In Love." Amy has a soulful voice that harmonizes well with her dad. Dare I say it, the fruit don't fall far from the tree. I look forward to her band's (Ollabelle) debut this year on Sony. I did get a glimpse of Ollabelle after the 2 Uncle Remus sets when musicians seemed to come out of the woodwork for the late night jam, where Levon continued to play until late in the evening. He calls it his Midnight Ramble and plans to have more. I don't know if the band members will stay the same, but you can bet each night will be special. You can learn more on the Uncle Remus web site.