What began as a rent party - or really, a mortgage bash - is now a Happening, which draws top guests from every musical genre imaginable. Bill Frisell, the Black Crowes, Norah Jones, Ollabelle and a seemingly endless loop of underheralded blues belters have all played in front of or with Levon's super-killing house and touring band. March 14 brings songstress Laurelyn Dossett into the Ramble to put forth a set before Helm's in-transition group holds court. With longtime guitarist Jimmy Vivino soon to be LA-based with boss Conan O'Brien, axe legend Jimmy Weider will now return to the fold and join Larry Campbell in the group's guitar section.
March 21 will feature the voice of Marie Knight. Missed going to whatever spiritual destination to which you subscribe? Not to worry: A session with the divine Ms. Knight is good for the soul. She has made a few recordings, but came up big with last year's Let Us Get Together, a collection of gospel numbers by the reverend Gary Davis that featured guitarist Larry Campbell, best-known for his work with Bob Dylan, Phil Lesh and of course Levon.
It almost doesn't matter who occupies the opening chair for the recharged band under Levon's leadership. Tunes from the Band are now in the regular rotation, played next to blues romps and rootsy tales of woe. Add to that the raging brass section anchored by Jay Collins, Steve Bernstein and Clark Gayton, vocals more often than not from Amy Helm et al, and you have a band suited for a trad concert hall or a barn-raising throwdown.
Visit www.levonhelm.com to order tickets. It's the only way to get in. Really. Oh yeah, and should you be in New York City next week, the group headlines the refurbished Beacon Theater March 5 and 6.