Cultural Bias #74: Levon Helm

On the flight out to San Diego on United, my heart lifted when I came across an article in my in-flight magazine (Hemispheres) on one of my all-time music heroes, Levon Helm. Levon was the drummer and distinctive vocalist in The Band, the lone Arkansan in a quintet of Canadians.

After the group split up in 1976 (rent Martin Scorcese’s The Last Waltz to see their last show), Levon held up in Woodstock, NY where he continued to make music and ran into two major setbacks in the late 90s. As he puts it, “Two things people don’t want are poverty and cancer. And I had both.”

Told he would never sing again, he experienced a miraculous recovery. So, he began hosting “Midnight Rambles” at his home in Woodstock, NY. These shows often feature surprise artists (e.g., Donald Fagen) and are a great time for all. My personal To Do list includes taking in one of those shows. (Can anyone out there score me a ticket?)

Check out Levon’s latest (excellent) release: Electric Dirt.

Onward, Malcolm Gauld