Tuesday, August 30, 2011

This concert should be played loud!

A way overdue posting from our celebration of Joker's 40th birthday: one of the most amazing live music experiences I have ever been to.  Along with two of our dear friends, we headed up to Woodstock, NY (sans kids!!!) for a night to attend Levon Helm's Midnight Ramble.

Levon Helm was the drummer for The Band, and has been an active musician for maybe five decades.  He lives outside of Woodstock where built an awesome studio in his own house that can hold about 200 guests and as many as 16 musicians on an intimate stage.  He hosts these Midnight Rambles on Saturday nights year-round.  It's billed as a concert, but the experience is so much more than that.

First you drive up an unmarked driveway, recognizable only by the mailbox on the side of the road, which opens up into a parking lot with attendants.  Everyone in the car needs a wristband, essentially a proxy for your ticket.  Once you park, you're free to wander the beautiful grounds.  But before taking a look around, grab a beer from your cooler and pour it into a plastic cup (if you don't bring your own, you can get cups at the venue).  When The Barn, as it's called, opens to the public, people with seating tickets (as opposed to standing-only) toss jackets onto the chairs they stake out, perhaps contribute a dish to the potluck table, and return to the tailgating party.  Throughout the show you're free to come and go as you will, the rule being only plastic cups and water bottles are allowed inside.  It's Levon's home, remember?

The music was intoxicating.  We danced our asses off.  Levon's band is 13 or so pieces, including his 30-something, uber-pregnant daughter who sings some of the lead vocals.  Levon himself plays so enthusiastically you'd think it was his first time in front of an audience.  They played songs from this band's repertoire, songs from the Dead, from The Band and more.  The show went on for a couple of hours, and we would gladly have stayed for more.  A concert-going experience for the record books - we only hope to enjoy it again someday!

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