LIVE: The Weight Band @ Cohoes Music Hall, 02/18/2022
The Weight Band Takes Fans to Heaven at Cohoes Music Hall February 18th
After seeing The Weight Band’s show Friday night at Cohoes Music Hall, I have a new understanding of why The Band was called simply The Band. They weren’t The Woodstock Band. They weren’t an Average White Band. And they weren’t The Weight Band, the moniker the group uses today. In an advance interview when I asked guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Jim Weider if they could use the name The Band, he said simply, “No! I don’t own it.”
The late Levon Helm was the leader of The Band. But make no mistake about it, the current lineup of The Weight Band by any other name IS The Band, no modifying adjectives required. And this latest iteration is better than the original, way better, as hard as that is to believe.
Jim is the only member of The Weight Band to have played in The Band in the 90s, when Levon Helm was carrying the torch for the original group that changed the very definition of alternative rock, challenging The Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers as the leading edge of the new order.
The Beatles were the first group of the era after rock and roll became just rock to feature all members as equal. Prior to that, rock and roll usually featured a lead singer, and it was under his or her name that they recorded and toured.
All five members of The Weight Band could easily be called band leaders. They all sing, most of them write, and together they egg each other on to deliver a “mature” rock concert that had their fans in hog heaven Friday night.
Technically, Jim Weider is the bandleader. A Woodstock resident from birth, he plays guitar that cuts the same swath on Telecaster as the late Roy Buchanan. In addition to playing and recording with The Band, he also was in Levon Helm’s Midnight Ramble Band, and his own Jim Weider Band.
Keyboardist Brian Mitchell’s credits include Levon Helm’s Midnight Ramble Band, Bob Dylan, Al Green, B.B. King, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. He sang lead on several songs Friday night and played some accordion that gave The Weight Band’s songs a campfire aroma.
Bass player and vocalist Albert Rogers’ credits include The Jim Weider Band, Jimmy Vivino, Levon Helm, and Garth Hudson. He’s also performed with Albert Lee and Hubert Sumlin.
Michael Bram on drums & vocals has worked with Willie Nelson and recorded with Bob Margolin of The Last Waltz fame.
Keyboardist and vocalist Matt Zeiner is the newest member of the group. His credits include Matt “Guitar” Murphy of Blues Brothers fame, Dickey Betts, and Jaimoe of The Allman Brothers.
The Weight Band performed two hour-long sets with a three-song encore. They gave new life to Band chestnuts including “Stage Fright,” “Don’t Do It,” “Life Is a Carnival,” “The Weight” and “I Shall Be Released.” They also put their own spin on Grateful Dead’s “Deal,” “The Same Old Blues” by Freddie King, Bob Dylan’s “Highway 61,” The Allman Brothers’ “Come and Go Blues,” and their own title track from their 2019 album “Living in A World Gone Mad.”
But it was on five songs from their upcoming release Shines Like Gold that knocked the concert out of the park. Jim Weider talked to me about each of these new originals.
“Shines Like Gold.” “You know, there’s a new dawn rising, and it shines like gold. In other words, the whole album shines like gold. All the songs have a thread of positivity that we’re going to get through this without dying. ‘Oh, my God. I can’t stand another day. It’s boring, whatever. There’s nothing to do. I mean everybody’s sick.’ There’s none of that. It’s like there’s a new dawn rising. It shines like gold. It’s a thing of thinking we’re all gonna get through if we just think positively.
“Tall Trees” “This is a song that came to me. I was thinking about Levon. The verse about Levon is about my life, growing up and contemplating leaving town, and the mountains and the second verse is about leaving town, and it’s about people you looked up to when they fall, but they’re never forgotten. Guys who really change your life with their work and their personality. So, all that with “Tall Trees” came about. I was thinking about just reflecting on my life and people that have changed my life, people that have changed me.
“Time Is A Thief.” “I had this idea I think by playing with Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett (of Little Feat). I came up with this groove and put a little slide in it. All the lyrics just came to me, and I sent it down to Colin. He added a couple of lines and lyrics. You know, time is a thief. You can relate to that. Everything is getting stolen by the pandemic. We’re losing years we can’t afford. I want to get out and play music. I want to travel. I want to do things, and I can’t go anywhere, so that line came to me pretty easily.
“The Train Is Never on Time” “This is a song Brian brought in that (album producer) Colin Linden loved.
“Out of the Wilderness. That’s another song I cowrote with Colin 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, and I just played it for Albert, and he knocked out a part. That’s gonna be our second single. That’ll come out at the end of the month. So, that’s a tune that was written for The Band a long time ago in the ’90s, but what were we talking about? I forgot. Brian plays some great accordion, and Albert sang the heck out of it. I’m so glad that it got recorded.”
They ended the night with The Band’s “I Shall Be Released.”
I see my light come shinin’
From the east down to the east
Any day now, any day now
I shall be released