Steve Earle, JJ Grey, The North Mississippi Allstars Duo, Ivan Neville, and More Celebrate Levon Helm at SXSW
Steve Earle, JJ Grey, The North Mississippi Allstars Duo, Ivan Neville, Carolyn Wonderland, members of Spirit Family Reunion and others paid tribute to Levon Helm and The Band on Saturday night. The free performance took place at Austin, TX’s Auditorium Shores as part of SXSW.
Members of Helm’s final solo band—know collectively known as The Midnight Ramble Band—served as the evening’s house band. Though Helm’s final musical director Larry Campbell was noticeably absent from the performance, Midnight Ramble regulars Amy Helm, Teresa Williams, Byron Isaacs, Brian Mitchell, Justin Guip and The Band’s Jim Weider all made the journey to Austin. Veteran guitarist Colin Linden—who co-wrote “Remedy” with Weider for The Band’s 1993 Jericho album—served as the evening’s co-lead guitarist and MC.
Guests dotted the evening’s setlist: The Mastersons’ Chris Masterson and Eleanor Whitmore appeared on “Long Black Veil,” Grey sang lead on “Ophelia,” Ramble regular Earle offered his own “The Mountain”—which Helm recorded on Dirt Farmer—and sang “Rag Mama Rag” for the first time and Wonderland appeared on “Don’t Do It.” Neville sat in for a chunk of the set, members of Spirit Family Reunion sat in and Luther and Cody Dickinson emerged for “Rag Mama Rag,” “Up on Cripple Creek” and other songs. Most of the evening’s cast and other guests also appeared on the show-closing sing-along “The Weight.”
The all-star performance closed a full day of music at the festival site that included performances by The Mother Hips, Nicki Bluhm and The Gramblers, Spirit Family Reunion, James Hunter, JJ Grey & Mofro, Steve Earle and Robert Randolph and The Family Band. During The Mother Hips set, Nicki Bluhm joined in on “Long Black Veil” while Grey invited out
the Dickinson brothers for “Sweetest Thing.” Both Grey and the North Mississippi Allstars Duo also sat in with Randolph.
Here’s a look at the evening’s Helm tribute
The Shape I’m In
Look Out Cleveland
Long Black Veil
(Ain’t That) Good News
Rag Mama Rag
Up on Cripple Creek
Don’t Do It