Above: Roger Waters, Joe Walsh, Mavis Staples, Jakob Dylan and others, performing The Band's iconic song "The Weight" at the Izod Center. Video by YouTube user clubdoc.
How many great roots-rockers does it take to save a barn? At least a few dozen -- or so the extended musical family of Levon Helm must have figured, when they decided to throw a big benefit concert at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Helm, a much-beloved figure both locally and globally, died in April. Since then, his nearest and dearest have launched a campaign to preserve The Barn -- the Woodstock property that doubled as a recording studio and the stage for his famous Rambles -- as a musical landmark. The Izod Center show, which was held on Wednesday, Oct. 3, was a fundraiser for that effort.
Even in an arena it was a cozy event. Dozens of luminaries from rock, soul and country — among them Gregg Allman, Jakob Dylan, Bruce Hornsby, Mavis Staples, John Prine, Joan Osborne, John Hiatt, Jorma Kaukonen and Ray La Montagne — were backed by the Levon Helm Band. It’s now led by the guitarist and fiddler Larry Campbell and, Mr. Campbell announced, renamed the Midnight Ramble Band. Fondly, fervently and with few displays of vanity, they sang Band songs and songs from Mr. Helm’s 2007 solo album, “Dirt Farmer” (including the Appalachian-style “Little Birds,” sung by Amy Helm, Mr. Helm’s daughter).
It seems Levon's shoes were tough to fill, though:
...at their foundation were the beats Mr. Helm had played: his amalgam of bedrock economy, R&B backbeat, military tattoo and jazzy variation. Sometimes it took two drummers to play them.
Video of the entire show will be released eventually as a DVD.