The Weight Carries The Band’s Cache to Cohoes Music Hall on February 18th
The Weight Band carries on its shoulders “the weight” of The Band with its more than half-century legacy that’s fundamental to America’s reputation as the world leader in pop culture. And yet principal songwriter/guitarist/vocalist Jim Weider is totally lacking in guile. How does he pull it off being as “normal” as anyone can be two years into the pandemic? I asked him that question in an advance interview.
“You know what? I’ll tell you how you do it. You do what Rick Danko said, ‘Always stay desperate!’ That’s one of my favorite Danko lines. I always stay desperate. As soon as we’d get off the road, he’d go off and play a gig in a freakin’ bar in the middle of nowhere, and I’d be with him.”
The Weight Band promises to bring with them to their Cohoes Music Hall show two to four songs from their new Shines Like Gold album that drops April 1st. One of those songs is their second single from the new album, “Out of the Wilderness.” “That’s another song I cowrote with (album producer) Colin (Linden) for the Jericho album but never recorded. It was written for Rick Danko, and I said, ‘I know this song would be great for The Weight Band.’ I just played it for Albert (Albert Rogers – bass & vocals), and he knocked out a part. That’s a tune that was written for The Band a long time ago in the ’90s.
The Weight IS The Band. They don’t call themselves that because they don’t own the name, but trust me, this album is as good or better than Music From Big Pink or Stage Fright. The bonus here is that today’s “Band” takes the maturity the original group had in mixing folk and rock on front porch originals and updates with more than 50 years of experience living in the real world. And they do it with the ease of riding a bicycle.
“If you ain’t on a bike and riding by 70, you never will be,” Jim says. “Right?”
My response? “I’ll tell you something. I have discovered more about myself after 70 than I did when I was 70.”
“I believe that,” he responds. “They say your most productive time in life is between 60 and 70, and then 70 and 80 if you live that long. There you go. You still got two years. Get the book done!”
Some of the songs on Shines Like Gold were written years ago, and the one nonoriginal by Willie Dixon has a back story from almost three decades ago.
“We got together the beginning of December. We went into the studio, and we needed a 10th tune. I had remembered that Willie Dixon had sent Levon (Helm) this tune, “It Don’t Make Sense (If You Can’t Make Peace)” and I always loved it. We didn’t cut it in 1993 for the Jerico album, but I remembered that cassette, and I said, “Man, I know the perfect tune to end this record.” We cut that live, and we did two takes and kept the second take.
“(The pandemic) is a common theme through the whole record without saying, ‘Oh, my God. I can take it no longer.’ I would write these tunes about what we’re going through, and then I would get an idea and come back, but as I was writing, every day I would go downstairs and write.
“I had no words. I had nothing to do. I got into a habit of every day once I got a song, the chords, and the chorus, everything written, I would send it down to Colin and say, ‘Do you want to add a verse? Do you want to add a lyric, if you like it?’ He was digging everything I was doing, so I ended up co-writing everything with him which was a long journey.”
Jim Weider wears The Band legacy proudly. He replaced original founding member Robbie Robertson as The Bandleader in 1985, and he is well aware of the iconic nature of his role.
“I call it the Woodstock sound. That’s the sound to me: The Band, Dylan, the combination of mixing folk with rock. It’s called Woodstock sound or Woodstock Mountain sound. I’ve been calling it the Woodstock sound ’cause it’s music that grew out of here; the style of recording. To me it’s the Woodstock sound, mixing folk with rock, rhythm, and blues, New Orleans feel.”
Robbie Robertson may have taken the name, but he surely didn’t take the game. Jim Weider carries that “weight.”
The Weight plays Cohoes Music Hall, 58 Remsen St. in Cohoes at 8 p.m. on Friday, February 18th. For more information go to https://www.thecohoesmusichall.org/new-events or call (518) 434-0776.
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