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Published: 2011/12/05

Garth Hudson, Jackson Browne, Donald Fagen, Dawes and Danny Louis Join Levon Helm

Photo by Dino Perrucci

Levon Helm hosted two Midnight Rambles at his Woodstock, NY-area barn this weekend. On Friday night, Helm hosted a special Friday night Ramble featuring special guest Dr. Ralph Stanley and The Clinch Mountain Boys. Stanley played several traditional songs like “Amazing Grace,” “I’ll Fly Away” and “Man Of Constant Sorrow.” He also collaborated with Helm, including on a particularly memorable version of “Long Black Veil.”

On Saturday, Helm returned to his Barn for a three-act performance. Previously announced guests Dawes opened the show with a short set that included a cameo by their mentor Jackson Browne. The singer/songwriter—who toured Europe with Dawes this summer and played a set with the group for Occupy Wall Street protesters on Thursday—joined the young band for his own “Take It Easy” and “Our Lady of the Well.” (Browne co-wrote “Take It Easy” with The Eagles). Next up, onetime Levon Helm Band guitarist—and current Conan musical director—Jimmy Vivino played a second opening set with the help of Band keyboardist Garth Hudson. Though Hudson regularly performed at Helm’s Ramble during their early years, his appearances have slowed a bit in recent years.

Helm invited all of the evening’s performers back onstage during his headlining set. In addition, area residents Donald Fagen (Steely Dan) and Danny Louis (Gov’t Mule) played keyboards during the night. Hudson emerged for a few songs, including a version of Steely Dan’s “Black Friday” featuring Fagen on vocals and a take on The Band’s “Up on Cripple Creek” led by Vivino. Both Browne and the members of Dawes also joined Helm onstage for the night’s traditional sing-along closer “The Weight.” Dawes are one of only a few musicians to perform with both Helm and Band guitarist Robbie Robertson in recent years.

Helm’s next Ramble will take place this Saturday, December 10. Steven Bernstein’s MTO Plays Sly with special guests John Medeski and Eric Mingus will open the night.

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