It's kind of sad that it took a bunch of Canadians to teach us about so-called "American" music (see also Neil Young), but The Band, made up of Rich Danko, Robbie Robertson and Richard Manuel, did just that. Good thing that Levon Helm-- drummer and sometime singer-- as well as the sole American in the group, was talented enough to balance everything out.
So much has been written about The Band, but so little needs to be said. Their music speaks for itself, drawing from blues, rock, country and rockabilly before coalescing into a truly unique sound that influenced Bob Dylan, among others.
This clip was filmed in "Big Pink" near Woodstock in 1970 and contains two songs: "King Harvest" and "Long Black Veil," which is one of my favorites, with evocative lyrics and a compelling story that unfolds over just three minutes.
Today, Levon Helm continues in the spirit of The Band's early, eclectic days in a monthly "Midnight Ramble" at his barn in Woodstock. They are known for roaring music, great food, special musical guests and a community atmosphere that makes for unique experience. I plan on checking one out this summer (just as soon as I find a car).
While The Band may be gone, with Danko and Manuel long dead from drug and alcohol abuse, The Drive-By Truckers, formed in Athens, Georgia in the mid-nineties, have taken up the torch. While they may rely much more on guitars than The Band, they are linked by their compelling songrwiting. This song, "Goddamn Lonely Love" is off their Dirty South album and gives me chills every time I hear it, so I hope you like it too:
Also, if you haven't seen The Last Waltz, directed by Martin Scorcese, what are you waiting for?
Have a great Music Monday!