Levon Helm’s Midnight Ramble

Update: Levon died on April 19, about two months after I saw this show. My thoughts are with Levon’s family and friends.

Ashes of laughter
The ghost is clear
Why do the best things always disappear
Like Ophelia
Please darken my door
— “Ophelia,” The Band

Source: Levon Helm Studios, used with permission

Last weekend I had the extreme pleasure of attending the Midnight Ramble by one of my favorite musicians, Levon Helm. He was a drummer/singer of The Band, and he now performs with his band and many special guests in his home/studio, a big, beautiful barn in the Catskills.

The atmosphere was so warm and welcoming. There were signs asking people to clean up after themselves as this was Levon’s home, and it really did have an intimate feel. The stage was on the ground floor of the barn with lofts all around it that allowed fans to look down over the stage.

Levon played the drums for much of the night, singing vocals first on The Band’s “Ophelia” in a rollicking version that was adored by the crowd. He came out from his drum kit and performed some songs on mandolin while seated on a stool in center stage.

Several Band songs were featured throughout the night, such as “This Wheel’s on Fire,” “King Harvest (Has Surely Come),” and “Remedy.”

I so enjoyed seeing the love and camaraderie between Levon and the other musicians. The feeling in the room was that these extremely talented people love music and love each other, and the fans that are attracted to the Ramble seemed the same.

I guessed that the final song would be “Up on Cripple Creek,” “The Weight,” or “I Shall Be Released,” and when the opening notes of “The Weight” began, I felt an extreme happiness spread through me. Members of the Steep Canyon Rangers, the opening act, came out for it, with verses being shared all around, some performed on violin, mandolin, and tuba. Levon sang the “Miss Moses” verse.

Go down, Miss Moses, there’s nothing you can say
It’s just old Luke, and Luke’s waiting on the Judgment Day.
“Well, Luke, my friend, what about young Anna Lee?”
He said, “Do me a favor, son, won’t you stay and keep Anna Lee company?”

Amy Helm, Levon’s daughter, sang several songs and even played drums for a song. Band member Teresa Williams belted out an incredible performance of “Keep Your Lamps Trimmed And Burning.” (Thanks to the set list found here.)

In their opening set, the Steep Canyon Rangers, a bluegrass group, seemed surprised and thrilled by the enthusiastic response they received. They played with high intensity, their amazing a cappella performance of “I Can’t Sit Down” being my favorite of the songs they performed.

I also had the opportunity to visit Big Pink, the little house made famous by The Band album, Music from Big Pink, one of the greatest albums of all time. It’s also the spot where Bob Dylan’s The Basement Tapes was recorded with The Band.

The house is along a bumpy dirt road with “No Trespassing” signs everywhere, so we snapped a couple quick pictures and were on our way. And I am happy to report that it is still pink.

This was such a delightful trip that any music lover would love.

(View Levon Helm discussing the modern Midnight Ramble and the old shows from his youth as he described them in this clip from The Last Waltz.)

Update 2: I had the pleasure of going up again to see Levon’s former Band-mate Garth Hudson perform on August 10, 2012.

Midnight Ramble

Update 3: I liked this video about the Rambles: Ramble On — Levon Helm

Related posts:

#96: 101 things in 1001 days. See at least five live shows.

  1. Big Grooves and Little Feat: Concert Review
  2. MCB on NYE
  3. Levon Helm’s Midnight Ramble (Feb. 4, 2012)
  4. Garth Hudson (Aug. 10, 2012)
  5. Amy Helm (March 29, 2013)

About Marcy

I blog about trying to get out of my comfort zone, completing 101 things in 1001 days (and beyond), and writing my memoirs. My book: Timid No More.

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17 Responses to Levon Helm’s Midnight Ramble

  1. Pingback: Big Grooves and Little Feat: Concert review | | (Don't Be) Too Timid and Squeamish(Don't Be) Too Timid and Squeamish

  2. Rahmath says:

    Loved the verses of “Miss Moses”. I have never heard him before. Going to check him out in Youtube.

  3. sammy says:

    That sounds like a fantastic weekend! I love seeing musicians in an intimate setting. I’ve never heard of him before either, but will be going to check him out. xx
    sammy recently posted..The Truth and a Winner!My Profile

  4. Anna says:

    There is no such thing as a long sought after musical experience. It’s magic when music makes you feel like one with the audience and totally in the present! It sounds like the kind of experience I would really enjoy myself!
    Anna recently posted..An Early ValentinesMy Profile

  5. Oooo that sounds like it was fun!!
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  6. Shannon says:

    OMG! Big Pink! I LOVE The Band. What fun. 🙂
    Shannon recently posted..A FURRY KIND OF LOVEMy Profile

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  10. theofframp says:

    Thanks for sharing this link with me, Marcy — yes, yes, and yes!! I had read where attending a Ramble is very special — it really was a unique experience. Hope to get back one of these days. Congratulations on finding Big Pink — we took a few wrong turns but eventually got there!

    • Marcy says:

      I loved seeing Big Pink. “Music from Big Pink” is one of my favorite albums of all time. I love “The Basement Tapes” too. If those walls could talk…

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  13. Emily says:

    Marcy, I was also at that show and I was looking for photos of that night but haven’t stumbled across any. We are going back beginning of next year and I wanted to give a framed image of that night to my partner as the gift. Do you have any photos I could use from that night?
    Sorry this is so out of the blue!

    • Marcy says:

      Hi Emily. It was such a great show! I didn’t take any photos since the audience was asked not to. I did see a woman taking pictures on an iPad. My guess is that she was Barbara O’Brien, who posts to Levon’s Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/levonhelm/ . It might be worth a try to message her or the page on Facebook and see if you get lucky. Good luck! –Marcy

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