Archive for Robbie Robertson

Video Du Jour: The Band

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , , on June 23, 2012 by 30daysout

This is an awesome video clip – Garth Hudson, Robbie Robertson and Levon Helm of The Band desconstruct the classic “Up On Cripple Creek.”

 

Video/Levon Helm Tribute Du Jour: John Fogerty & the Black Keys

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , , , on April 24, 2012 by 30daysout

Levon Helm

There have been a lot of tributes to fallen singer Levon Helm since he died last week – none better, though, than this affectionate yet clear-eyed appreciation by Peter Gerstenzang that appeared in the Village Voice. Here is one appropriate excerpt:

After I got the news yesterday that he’d died, I got into the car to drive around and think, two things I’m never good at doing simultaneously. Foolishly, I turned on the radio, expecting to hear The Band’s music blasting, from one end of the dial to the other. I forgot about how doomed my expectation was. Corporate radio was not going to budge its mix of Def Leppard and Rihanna for five fucking minutes to fete this great master of American Music. I thought, none of these programmers realize what terrible fate is awaiting them. And, that, as they say down South, Hell is only half-full. So, I turned off the radio and just started singing “The Weight,” one of the biggest hits The Band ever had and a song that introduced, to most of us little hippies, the first Southern voice since Elvis that didn’t seem scary, or possessed by a guy who had a shotgun pointed at the front wheel of our motorcycle.”

Read the entire Village Voice piece here.

In related news, this appeared on Facebook today:

Message to Robbie Robertson from Dennis Miele: “Robbie, there seems to be a debate about the lyrics to “The Weight”. Can you confirm that the line is ‘Take a load off FANNY’?’

Robbie Robertson: Fanny.

If you are near your computer tonight KUT-FM in Austin remembers legendary musician Levon Helm. Tune in to hear “Levon Helm Rambles Home: An Appreciation,” produced by Paul Ingles, by streaming it on the KUT home page. Show starts at 8 p.m. CDT.

And finally, this tribute to Levon Helm by the Black Keys and John Fogerty took place over the weekend at Coachella:

Levon Helm official website

New album coming from Robbie Robertson

Posted in News with tags , , , on January 5, 2011 by 30daysout

Robbie Robertson - Photo by David Jordan Williams

Robbie Robertson, former guitarist and songwriter for The Band, will release his first solo record in more than a decade this spring.  On April 5, 2011, 429 Records will release How To Become Clairvoyant, Robertson’s fifth solo album.  Guests include Eric Clapton (who co-wrote three tracks with Robertson), Tom Morello and Robert Randolph, Steve Winwood, Trent Reznor and vocalists Angela McCluskey, Rocco Deluca, Dana Glover and Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes.  Bassist Pino Palladino and drummer Ian Thomas lay down the groove throughout.

On his last two albums, Music for The Native Americans (1994) and Contact from the Underworld of Redboy (1998), Robertson explored his ancestry.  Now, with How To Become Clairvoyant, he takes on his rock heritage, delivering his first-ever song about leaving The Band, the evocative “This Is Where I Get Off.”  You can preview “When The Night Was Young” off the new album by clicking here.

Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: Rick Danko

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , , , on July 15, 2010 by 30daysout

Riffling through my big sister’s stack of records I found an album that many people would consider a lost classic: Rick Danko, the 1977 solo debut album from the bass player and singer from the Band.  It was the first solo LP by a member of that beloved group, which had famously disbanded the year before with its “Last Waltz” concert in San Francisco.

And of all the solo projects by the members of the Band, only Rick Danko features each member of the group.  Other friends and guests included Eric Clapton, Ron Wood, Doug Sahm, Blondie Chaplin (then of the Beach Boys), Gerry Beckley (of America) and David Paich (who would later become part of Toto).  Danko wrote most of the tracks with lyrics by actor/comedian Emmett Grogan and Louisiana singer/songwriter Bobby Charles, who was a friend of the Band.

Many people have said this is the best solo effort by any member of the Band, but I think those assessments were made before Levon Helm’s more recent success (Dirt Farmer, Electric Dirt).  Rick Danko would certainly rank up there among the best, though.

Songs like the opener “What A Town,” “New Mexico” and “Small Town Talk” – all co-written with Charles – sound most like the Band.  “What A Town” is an uptempo lope a lot like “Ophelia” and Ron Wood, who was in the Rolling Stones by this time, contributes a sweet guitar solo.  Another highlight is “New Mexico,” flavored by the accordion of Garth Hudson and the guitar of Eric Clapton.

“Tired of Waiting” sounds a lot like a Doug Sahm tune, and in fact Sir Doug himself lays down some vocal harmonies and a guitar solo on this track.  When Bobby Charles did “Small Town Talk” on his own solo album he took an almost acoustic, singer/songwriterly approach.  Danko’s version of the song lays on the horns for fuller production – and Danko himself plays lead guitar on this highlight.

Robbie Robertson takes a turn on guitar with “Java Blues” and it’s one of his better solo riffs.  By the time Levon Helm lends his singular vocal twang to harmonies on “Once Upon A Time,” you can close your eyes and hear the Band at Woodstock.  But that was the final tune on the album – although a rich experience, it seems very short to me.

Danko would of course be part of the reunion of the Band (minus Robertston) in the 1990s.  After Richard Manuel’s suicide, Danko and Helm handled most of the vocals on the three studio albums under the Band imprint.  Danko also cut a few folk-oriented albums with singer/songwriter Eric Andersen and Norwegian roots artist Jonas Fjeld and one of them, Danko/ Fjeld/ Andersen from 1991, won a Grammy Award.  Danko would tour with Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band and cut a few more solo albums before his death in 1999.

MP3: “What A Town”

MP3: “Java Blues”

MP3: “Once Upon A Time”

The Band official website (with extensive info on all the members’ solo projects)

Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: Woodshedding at Woodstock

Posted in Rock Classics! with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 13, 2010 by 30daysout

Editor’s Note: We are expanding this feature for this week only, to help call attention to Record Store Day on Saturday.  Independent record stores are dying on the vine, go out on Saturday and show ‘em that you love them by purchasing some vinyl.

Today we travel about 1,500 miles to the hamlet of Woodstock, New York, comfortably situated in the rustic Hudson Valley north of the Big Apple.  Now this isn’t the place where the big Woodstock festival took place (that was in Bethel, about 40 miles to the northeast) – the town of Woodstock is a haven for artists, musicians and the like.  One of the town’s most famous residents is Levon Helm, best known as the drummer for the Band.

The stories are rock legend: about the Band backing Dylan as he went “electric” in the mid-1960s, how a discouraged Helm quit, how the group reunited with Dylan in Woodstock, then finally how Helm rejoined and recorded the landmark Music From Big Pink.  By 1975, Levon Helm was a big-time rock star.  He had just married a young lady he first met while working in L.A., and he moved back to bucolic Woodstock to make his permanent home. On his 20-acre homesite, Helm built a huge timber-framed barn with only wooden pegs and locally quarried bluestone.  Overlooking a bass-filled lake and shadowed by Overlook Mountain, Helm’s barn was to double as a recording studio.

The studio was nearly complete in 1975 when Helm welcomed his first client, Chicago blues great Muddy Waters.  Helm and his business partner songwriter/producer Henry Glover invited some of the A-list musicians to sit in on the sessions with Waters and his touring band.  The result was The Muddy Waters Woodstock Album, released in 1975.  Among the musicians on the album were guitarist Bob Margolin and pianist Willie “Pinetop” Perkins from Muddy’s band, blues-harp monster Paul Butterfield and hot session guitarist Fred Carter as well as Helm and Garth Hudson from the Band.

The album kicks off with “Why Are People Like That,” written by Louisiana singer/songwriter Bobby Charles (who was also living in Woodstock at the time).  Waters wrote five songs his own bad self, including “Born With Nothing” (on which Muddy plays a wicked slide guitar) and “Going Down To Main Street” (with Garth Hudson on accordion).  The accordion wasn’t known as a blues instrument (outside of  Clifton Chenier’s neighborhood, of course) but Hudson turns it into a blistering blues tool, particularly on “Caledonia,” a cover of the hot Louis Jordan tune.

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30 Days Out Exclusive Interview: Jesse Winchester

Posted in News, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 6, 2010 by 30daysout

My first recollection of Jesse Winchester was seeing his picture on the back of a Billboard magazine in the 1970s.  I had not thought about him since until seeing him last month on Spectacle: Elvis Costello with … on Sundance Channel.  My loss.  He brought the house down (and tears to eyes of Neko Case) with “Sham-A-Ling-Dong-Ding,” a track from his latest release, Love Filling Station.

Winchester was born in Louisiana in 1944 and 22 years later, upon his graduation from college, he received his draft notice.   He decided the Vietnam War was not for him and he split to Canada.  As he explained it to Costello, “he hung around hippies and played coffee houses where you had to write your own songs to fit in.”  In 1970, his music caught the ear of The Band’s Robbie Robertson and he produced Winchester’s critically acclaimed first record.  He went on to release a number of records in the early 70s, and is best known for the tunes “Yankee Lady” and “Brand New Tennessee Waltz.”    When Bob Dylan was asked who he thought, other than himself, was the greatest living songwriter, he said Jesse Winchester.

Songs by Jesse Winchester covered by other artists would fill a good-sized songbook.  “Rhumba Man” was covered by Jimmy Buffett on his new album, and Winchester’s tunes have also been covered by Patti Page, Elvis Costello, Joan Baez, Anne Murray and Reba McEntire.  On Love Filling Station, Jesse reclaims “Oh What A Thrill,” which was a hit for the Mavericks.

Winchester was nice enough to answer a few questions for us about his past, his present and his future:

30DaysOut: Tell us how you got your start in music?  Were you influenced by the Memphis scene and its musicians?

JW: I seem to have been a musician from birth. I was very much influenced by Memphis music – gospel, blues, country. I loved the great radio station, WDIA, and also Dewey Phillips, the best disc jockey ever.

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Lost Classics! Lone Justice/Maria McKee

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , , on April 30, 2009 by 30daysout

lone_justice_48f7473ebe497

In the 1980s, Los Angeles was the birthplace of a curious genre called cowpunk, a mashup of punk rock with roots music.  Among the more famous practitioners were the Beat Farmers, the Blasters, Los Lobos, Green on Red and of course, Lone Justice. 

Lone Justice came together in 1982 under the guidance of guitarist Ryan Hedgecock and singer Maria McKee, an L.A. singer whose half brother was Bryan McLean from the psychedelic band Love.  In their early days, Lone Justice was a hot band in the L.A. area – thanks in part to having famous champions and fans like Linda Ronstadt and Benmont Tench, Tom Petty’s keyboardist and Maria McKee’s boyfriend.

Geffen Records put out Lone Justice’s self-titled debut album in 1985 and although a few songs (most notably the Tom Petty-penned “Ways To Be Wicked”) got radio airplay, the album didn’t sell as well as everyone hoped it would.  Maybe Lone Justice wasn’t really a true cowpunk band – the first album showed evidence of ambition beyond the boundaries of the genre.  To my ears, Lone Justice sounded more like a California-style U2 rather than the other bolo tie bands that were out at the time.

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