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Monday, April 23, 2012

Levon Helm RIP

From Bob Corritore

RIP Levon Helm - May 26, 1940 to April 19, 2011 Drummer/ vocalist/harmonica player/actor Levon Helm is best known in popular culture for his work withThe Band andBob Dylan, but he had a lesser-known affiliation with the blues. He passed away yesterday in New York, after a long struggle with cancer. Levon Helm's musical contributions are many and well documented, and we will refer to the Wikipedia page for his bio: Though we will not detail his pop music activity in this obit, let's review some of Levon's very active blues offerings: As a native of Arkansas he was influenced at an early age by the work ofSonny Boy Williamson II,Robert Lockwood, Jr., and James "Peck" Curtis (who Levon credits as his early drum inspiration). In the early 1960s Levon would land a gig with Canadian blues / rock 'n rollerRonnie Hawkins, and in 1964 he would appear on theJohn Hammond album So Many Roads. In the mid 70s, while The Band was at the height of their career, Levon appeared onMuddy Waters' Grammy-winning Woodstock Album. Levon was also crucial in gettingMuddy Waters (withPinetop Perkins,Paul Butterfield andBob Margolin) onThe Band's 1976 finale concert / documentary film,The Last Waltz, and when the organizers of that show considered a last minute cut of Muddy's segment due to time and budget concerns, it was Levon who stood up to organizational pressure and refused to perform unless Muddy's part of the show was honored. In his post-Band years, Levon's work would gravitate to a blues format as he hosted regular star-studded "Barn Concerts" that were literally at the barn of his Woodstock, New York residence. His group would feature a series of harmonica player / vocalists who would serve as the frontmen includingChris O'Leary,Little Sammy Davis, andSteve Guyger. Levon was also involved inLouisiana Red's 2002 CD, A Different Shade Of Red, The Woodstock SessionsonSevern Records. Levon's reputation among the blues world was of the highest order.Bob Margolin refers to Levon as "an amazing musical soul." We thank this great man who, while rising to the heights of pop stardom, always worked to better the blues. To see a great article byBob Margolin about his recollections ofThe Last Waltz, clickhere. To see the New York Times obit clickhere.

From The South Skunk Blues Society

Waltz, clickhere. To see the New York Times obit clickhere.
From The South Skunk Blues Society

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