When Levon Helm left us last year, mourners hoped to preserve his legacy by sustaining the Barn. In this beloved venue, Levon hosted the Midnight Rambles, where top musicians gathered for homespun concerts in a communal setting. The outreach was overwhelming, resulting in this rousing multi-star arena benefit celebrating Levon’s life and music.
Concert guests include Roger Waters, Gregg Allman, John Mayer, My Morning Jacket, Warren Haynes, Bruce Hornsby, Amy Helm, Dierks Bentley, Joe Walsh, Grace Potter, Eric Church, John Hiatt, Marc Cohn, Jakob Dylan, Robert Randolph, the Levon Helm Band, Lucinda Williams, Garth Hudson, and many others.
Co-musical directors Don Was and Larry Campbell lead an all-star house band anchored by the axis-steady drumming of Kenny Aronoff. Also honoring the Levon throne—alone and in double-drumming tandem—are Jaimoe Johanson, Shawn Pelton, Steve Jordan, and Levon Helm Band member Justin Guip. Highlights include Mavis Staples blowing off the arena top on “Move Along Train,” Allen Toussaint sparking a deep New Orleans groove on “When I Paint My Masterpiece,” and John Mayer’s Strat channeling the Band’s Robbie Robertson on “Tears Of Rage.”
A bonus disc includes rehearsal footage and interviews with performers reminiscing about Levon. Campbell says of the man, “He’s the most honest person you’re ever gonna meet.” And of the music: “He is ground zero of what’s now called Americana music.” Daughter Amy tells us, “The most important thing that he taught me and everyone else he played music with was, ‘Stay as close to the center of the joy in the song as you can.’” (Star Vista)