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One Way for Danko

by Øyvind Rønning

The article below was translated (in a hurry, sorry for any errors) from a full-page story appearing in the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet on January 25th, 1999. Copyright © 1999 Dagbladet. Please do not copy or redistribute.

WOODSTOCK (Dagbladet): Things can only go one way - upwards - for Rick Danko (56). Rock legends The Band have a new record out, and soon Danko are going into to the studio with Jonas Fjeld and Eric Andersen.

[Danko, 1999. Photo by Tore Bergsaker] Danko is a heavyweight in the right meaning of the word - and he is hungry for more success. The bass player and singer of The Band had to stop his cooperation and recording of a live album with Fjeld and Andersen when he was convicted for posession of drugs during the trio's Japan tour in 1997. After three months is jail he was released.

New album from the trio. The work with Fjeld and half-Norwegian Andersen resulted in the critically acclaimed albums Danko, Fjeld, Andersen (1993) and Ridin' on the Blinds (1997), and now they are getting ready to record album number three in Levon Helm's barn-studio in Woodstock. Danko is happy to collaborate with Fjeld again:

- He is an international star. Everybody loves him, he says about his collegue from Drammen (Drammen is Norways "ugliest town", according to Fjeld himself.)

Jonas is also ready, and the only thing that can delay the project is that Andersen's new solo album does "too well". But the again both Danko and Fjeld are present on it.

Troubadour. The list of Rick Danko's work over the years is about as big as his waistline - in inches. In addition to a long line of records with The Band, on their own and as backing group for Bob Dylan, he has been present on more than 50 albums with other artists. Occasionaly he can also be seen as a troubadour touring the US. Dagbladet followed him and Band-producer and musician Aaron Hurwitz on their way to club concerts in Philadelphia and New Jersey. The two men have started the recording company Woodstock Records together with Band-drummer Levon Helm. A live album with Danko has already been released.

- I have an enormous archive to chose from, says Danko.

The Band have an incredible position in the history of rock music, after the group went from being Ronnie Hawkins' backing band under the name The Hawks in the beginning of the '60s, until they in 1965 started playing with an electric Bob Dylan.

- I moved to Woodstock with Manuel and Tiny Tim in 1967 to help Dylan with a film, Danko tells us.

Basement Tapes. Dylan had moved there to recover after his motorcycle accident, and together with Robbie Robertson he came over every day to the studio in Big Pink.

- That's the way The Basement Tapes were created, says Danko about the Dylan album that first was released officially in 1975.

The members of The Band stayed in the hippie town north of New York City, that according to Danko grows from 3000 inhabitants during winter to 30 000 in the summer. In 1968 the group debuted on their own with Music from Big Pink, and the year after they played the Woodstock festival. But after the final concert The Last Waltz in 1976 it was over. Six years later the group reunited, but without Robbie Robertson. Later Richard Manuel commited suicide.

In 1993 they finally released their first studio album in 16 years, Jericho. Three years later High on the Hog followed, and now The Band is back in top form with the accoustic Jubilation. It is still only available as an import album, but Danko says it will be distributed world-wide soon.

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