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Levon Helmís Midnight Ramble

Saturday, September 23, 2006, 8:00 PM
160 Plochmann Lane, Woodstock, NY

by Tom Ordon

Posted at, 10.01.2006.
The text is copyright © 2006 Tom Ordon, please do not copy or redistribute.

Dave Dowd from WDST 100.1 FM Woodstock welcomed everyone to the Ramble. A girl named Vicki, who turned out to be one of the backup singers in the opening band, introduced the Alexis P. Suiter Band. Alexis is a very soulful lady wearing a tall top hat who can belt out a song. Backing her were 2 backup singers, drummer, lead guitarist, electric bassist, & keyboard man.

Set List

  1. Hope You Like Soul
  2. Teacherís Pet
  3. Do What You Do Cause You Gotta Do What You Do
  4. The Hole That Iím In
  5. You Donít Know Me and You Never Will
  6. Just Be On Your Way
  7. Climb On Up The Mountain
  8. Turn On Your Lovelight (Bobby Blue Bland)
  9. Encore: Ride Ride Ride
I assume that all songs in her set are originals except for Lovelight. Overall, the set was strong, and the songs were above average, and they were a good opener.

Then there was a break, and we assumed the next act would be the drummer from Rwanda, but the word spread through the crowd that he was lost and could not find Levonís house. Therefore, the next act would be the Levon Helm Band.

At 9:27 PM, Levon and his band walks on. Larry Campbell is on guitar. Levon is on mandolin. Larryís wife, Teresa Williams, is on acoustic guitar. Stand up bass is Mike Merritt. Brian Mitchell was on piano. Drummer unknown. Basically the first part of the set (songs 1-9) was acoustic, and the second part (songs 10-22) was electric.

Set List

  1. One More Shot
    Levon introduces this as a song about Jesse James. Levon sings lead.

  2. Atlantic City (Bruce Springsteen)
    Levon sings lead. (Larry Campbell plays fiddle on this one. Keyboard player Brian Mitchell plays accordion on this song.

  3. White Dove
    Levon sings lead. Sample lyric: "Iíve lived my life in sorrow, since Mother and Daddy are dead..." When I spoke to Amy Helm the following Monday in Albany at the Ollabelle concert, she told me this song would be on Levonís new album of old traditional songs. She told me that Levonís fans would love it, but no release date is set yet, although it is completed. Another song that she said would be on it is "Little Birds", which The Band did at their first run of shows at the Winterland in April, 1969. Levonís Dad taught him "Little Birds".

  4. Just As Long As That Woman Stands By Me
    Levon sings lead. Sample lyric: "Sheís a pretty good woman!"

  5. The Mountain (Steve Earle)
    Levon sings lead. The song is about the hard life of a miner: "I woke up to find my childhood was over...")

  6. Deep Elem Blues
    Larry Campbell sings lead. Great accordion solo by keyboardist Brian Mitchell, whoís Mom lives in Austin, by the way. The horn players (one sax, one trumpet) came out during this song and stayed for the rest of the night.

  7. Rag Mama Rag
    Levon sings lead.

  8. Angel Band (trad.)
    Levon sings lead, Larry on fiddle, another great accordion solo by Brian Mitchell, "...on your snow white wings to my immortal home".

    Levon calls up bluesman/harp player/singer Little Sammy Davis, wearing a sharp gray suit, burgundy derby hat, and belt of harmonicas around his waist.

  9. Donít Ya Tell Henry(Dylan)
    Levon sings lead, Little Sammy on harp. Levon is still on mandolin, but that will change for the next song.

    Levon moves to drums for the rest of the show and Larry moves to electric guitar for the rest of the show.

  10. Forty Days and Forty Nights (Muddy Waters)
    Little Sammy on lead vocal and harp.

  11. Back To Memphis
    Levon sings lead.

  12. The New Scratch My Back (Slim Harpo)
    Little Sammy sings lead and plays harp.

  13. I Want To Know (Ray Charles)
    Levon sings lead.

    Here Levon says "special birthday in the house" and the band breaks into a short version of Happy Birthday To You for a little kid in the audience.

  14. Tipitina/Roberta
    Keyboard player Brian Mitchell sings lead and plays New Orleans style piano-great!

  15. Ophelia
    Levon sings lead, great guitar solo by Larry Campbell,

  16. Youíre So Fine
    Little Sammy lead vocal.

  17. Rain Down Tears
    Levon lead vocal.

    Next, Levon calls up special guest Debbie Davis to play guitar, along with Larry.

  18. Look Over Yonders Wall
    Lead vocal by Larry Campbell, Larry is playing slide on this one.

  19. Bring It On Home To Me
    Larry sings lead, but actually the whole song consists of the 3 part vocals of Larry, his wife Teresa, and Little Sammy.

  20. I Donít Want To Hang Up My Rock and Roll Shoes
    Levon sings lead, Little Sammy plays the large chromatic harmonica on this one song.

    After the song ends, Levon says "Thank you neighbors! We got one more for you!"

  21. Take Me To The River (Al Green)
    Levon sings lead, all the musicians from the opening band are on stage, too, taking part.

  22. Encore: It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry (Dylan)
    Levon sings lead, all musicians are again together on stage, trading off solos.
I thought it was interesting that none of the performances seemed like jam sessions that went on and on. Levon was definitely in control, and all songs had arrangements, and when they were over, Levon would bring the song to a halt.

Misc. notes

  • Debbie Davis was introduced as "Little Sammyís Soul Sister".

  • The other drummers were Donnie Catsteno and Ray Greponi. (They played in the opening act and during Levonís acoustic set.)

  • Levon wore a black glove on his left hand when he played drums.

  • The horn players were Jay Collins on sax and Kenny Rempkin on trumpet.

  • Levonís vocals were excellent and he played his drums strong. He was very impressive to watch up close on drums. We were only a few yards away. It was a great set and the sound was perfect.

  • The Gumbo that was shipped up from Lafayette, Louisiana, by Sherwin & Carlene & friends was great. The Freihofer chocolate chips were also pretty good!

Review by Tom Ordon
Copyright 2006
Taylor, Texas

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