An evening with some good ole' boys
by Allan StrongA review of a concert by Rick Danko and Levon Helm at Fryfogles, London March 3, 1983. The review was published in The Interrobang March 17, 1983. The text is copyrighted, please do not copy or redistribute.
Thanks to Serge Daniloff for sending us a copy of the original article.
The Band was a musical group that touched a lot of people during it's existence. They started out with Ronnie Hawkins, played with Bob Dylan, released a few albums of their own and then decided to pack it in. Their last concert at Winterland, San Francisco produced an unforgettable film and album, both entitled The Last Waltz.
On Wednesday March 3, two members of The Band were in London to play a set at Fryfogles. It will be a night that will not be easily forgotten by these who were fortunate enough to be in attendance.
They chose not to appear with any supporting musicians. It was just Levon, Rick, their instruments and their audience. The two performers rambled throught their set with consumate ease. One couldn't help but get the feeling that they were there to enjoy themselves and play some music. Their spirit infected the audience and by the end of their set, it felt like we had just been sitting in the living room listening to a couple of friends jamming. They played a variety of old blues tunes, country rock and roll and some material from The Band. A couple of numbers that com to mind are "Rag Mamma Rag", "The Weight" and "Ophelia".
It was a very relaxed and intimate atmosphere. It was particularily interesting just to see the two of them on stage without any backing musicians, neither one of them were playing instruments they are known for. Levon is primarily a drummer while Rick has spent the majority of his musical career playing bass. This did not seem to hamper them at all, as they handle the guitar, harmonica and mandolin quite easily.
I had the opportunity to chat with Levon after the show and the laid back amiable approach to music was apparent in his approach to life. Levon takes his music and living very seriously but at the same time he prefers to go about it in a relaxed way. As he said "..it's basically learning how to play music and how to live a life at the same time and be true to each one of them."
Levon really enjoys playing in London, he sort of considers London one of his second homes. He has a lot of friends in the London area and coming back gives him the opportunity to renew old acquaintances. This is one of the rewards of playing music for Levon, the opportunity to make friends through music. He still keeps in touch with other members of The Band. They chat occasionally on the phone, but he added that there isn't really any plan to get back together. Everyone is playing their music as well as they ever have and they are all keeping well. The Band consisted of Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko, Levon Helm, Garth Hudson and Richard Manuel.
Levon doesn't mind playing songs that he did when he was with The Band, he says, "that's what the people want and they expect us to do them."
From London Levon and Rick were headed for Chigago for three shows, then it was going to be back home to Woodstock.
There may be an album out sometime, but Levon doesn't really feel a pressing need to do one. When the time feels right to do an album, he'll do one. The next time Levon will be in London, he'll probably be playing with the Cats Brothers Band. Hopefully we won't have to wait too long for a return visit.
The opening act was a local band called Boomerang. They played a quickpaced set consisting primarily of blues numbers. They are a musically tight group, surprising considering they have been together since September 1982. The band consists of Theresa Burns (sister of local musician Tommy Burns), Frank Risdale, Tony Shorne, Steve Campbell and Jay Fletcher. Keep your eyes open for Boomerang. Hopefully they will be playing a few engagements around town shortly.
To put it in a nutshell, the evening was a helluva good time spent with some really fine people (the whole evening was sponsored by 6X by the way).