The Levon Helm Band is making more than music in Woodstock, NY nestled in the heart of the Catskill Mountains, they are orchestrating a musical carnival known as The Midnight Ramble. The idea is to recreate, inside Levon Helm Studios, the traveling shows (like F.S. WalcottOs Rabbit Foot Minstrel show) that played in the South where Levon grew up as a boy, embracing the merging musical traditions of the time; blues, gospel, country, rock and roll, bluegrass, rockabilly, soul and jazz. Levon Helm (The Band, R.C.O All-Stars) made a career on stage and screen as a singer, drummer, band leader, writer and actor. He has assembled some of the premiere musicians on the East Coast to take part in the carnival. The room is a unique studio, all wooden (no nails only wooden pegs holding the barnOs towering hemlock beams together) with locally quarried bluestone and the ambiance of a church hall.
Levon Helm's early solo albums, made in the 1970s after the Band initially broke up, were hit-and-miss affairs, but his first solo studio release in 25 years represents a rich return to his Southern roots. With co-production and musical support from daughter Amy (of Ollabelle) and multi-instrumentalist Larry Campbell (long a mainstay of Bob Dylan's band), Helm gives organic unity and rough-hewn vitality to a selection of Cajun fiddle waltzes, country blues, hardscrabble folk, and some more contemporary material (from the likes of Steve Earle and Buddy and Julie Miller). Following his recovery from throat cancer, Helm's voice has a slightly different timbre, but his phrasing is unmistakable as the same vocalist who sang "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" and "Rag Mama Rag." With Amy providing harmony and duet vocals and Levon's drumming evoking his signature work with the Band, Helm takes material from a variety of sources and makes it all his own.