I’ve been enjoying Levon Helm’s grammy-nominated disc Dirt Farmer and eyeing his book This Wheel’s on Fire: Levon Helm & the Story of the Band on my nightstand. I’m not going to write a Levon bio, so if you need, catch up here.
Listen to a bit of Dirt Farmer here, and find yourself at home no matter your musical tastes. It’s folk music, but the reason that music resonates with us is we’re all just folks. So when you tire of indie rock navel gazing, let Levon’s harmonies with his daughter Amy satisfy a craving you didn’t even know you had.
You can listen to Levon perform four songs on NPR’s World Cafe. He is touring the album, but mostly in the form of Midnight Rambles, which are jam sessions open to the public at his Woodstock, NY, home/studio/barn. He’s been holding these shows for a long time, and often all-star guests pop in unannounced. Very cool. Plus, isn’t it sweet to think of him always and forever playing at Woodstock?
Dirt Farmer makes judicious use of the drums, including 86ing them entirely if the song can stand alone. I think of Levon as a drummer first (take a lesson from him here) and a singer second, but I don’t know why that would be since he sings lead on The Weight, one of the best songs of all time, and lots of other The Band songs. Regardless, I should take my new-found focus on his vocals and re-watch The Last Waltz, Martin Scorsese’s documentary of The Band’s final rock-out.
Oh yeah, and if you weren’t convinced of Levon’s multi-faceted coolness yet, check out his memorable acting performance in The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (pic of him in character). A friend swears that when Levon’s character is dishing some soup out of a pot he’s situated toward pot, lid, and spoons as if about to play on his drum set with drumsticks. Wink, wink, from director Tommy Lee Jones if it’s true.
UPDATE 1.24.07: Aquarium Drunkard posted on Levon today, offering two downloads; one of them is a Steve Earle cover.