Levon Helm: Rock, Roll & Ramble
SAUGERTIES – On Friday, Oct. 20, The Orpheum Theatre hosted a documentary screening / book-signing / discussion entitled “Levon Helm: Rock, Roll & Ramble – The Inside Story of the Man, the Music and the Midnight Ramble”. The event was presented by Radio Woodstock 100.1 WDST and Inquiring Minds Coffee House and Bookstore.
When was the last time you listened to a panel discussion? Was it one about some boring work topic, or an exciting bit of music history and one of its beloved “everyperson”?
[Let me tell you right now, that I am going to dispense with the journalist’s practice of referring to Levon Helm as Helm. Given what I learned last night, he might have let me call him Mr. Helm once and then told me to call him Levon. I will do that here.]
Well, last night a friend and I attended the Orpheum Theater in Saugerties to do the latter. The topic of discussion was Levon Helm, drummer and leader (IMHO) of The Band, among other outfits. The panel and movie gave insights into his life, music, and most notably friends, to whom he tended like a dirt farmer grows his crop. On the panel was Barbara O’Brien, manager, and John W. Barry, author, expertly helmed (ahem) by Radio Woodstock’s Greg Gattine. This discussion could have gone all night and been a Midnight Ramble all on its own, sans music.
Barry spent years attending Rambles and traveling with Levon to do his form of “gonzo recording/reporting” on his subject. While he attempted to shrink to the status of a wallflower, Levon often introduced Barry as a friend to friends and colleagues in the music and entertainment industry. O’Brien was drafted by Levon to manage his Rambles that became a fiscal lifeline. What she knows! Well, you will have to read her chapter in Barry’s book and see for yourself.
Ain’t In It For My Health, a documentary depicting the everyday and every person-ness of Levon, was shown and underscored the panel discussion. The title is a direct quote of Levon’s commentary on why anyone would live the life of a traveling musician and boy does it drive home the point. The film is available on YouTube to buy or rent if you are so inclined.