Levon Helm :: Dirt Farmer (2007)


Speaking of Levon Helm, late last year the man released Dirt Farmer, his first album in twenty-five years. A truly instinctive drummer, and one of the most recognizable voices of rock & roll, Helm nearly lost his ability to speak, let alone sing, after battling throat cancer a few years back. Now on the mend and healthy, the past couple of years have found Helm hosting intimate performances, known as the Midnight Ramble, on his property in Woodstock, New York. I’ve been itching to make the trip east to check one of these out — any AD readers been?

Dirt Farmer is a winner – it’s as good as you hope it’s going to be, and is most definitely the finest Band related album in decades. Helm and his band (including daughter Amy Helm of Ollabelle fame) effortlessly traverse various sub-genres of what can only be described as Americana; blues, gospel, folk, country, and rock ‘n roll flow throughout.

Elsewhere: Excellent World Cafe interview: Levon Helm – Beyond The Band with Blues

MP3: Levon Helm :: False Hearted Lover Blues
MP3: Levon Helm :: The Mountain (Steve Earle cover)

Video: Levon Helm – Levon Helm on Drums and Drumming
Amazon: Levon Helm – Dirt Farmer

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+ Visit The Hype Machine for additional Levon Helm MP3s

16 thoughts on “Levon Helm :: Dirt Farmer (2007)

  1. Is this picture of The Band playing in front of the Grateful Dead’s infamous “Wall of Sound”, cause if it is that is just reason 763 that The Band is one of the greatest of all time.

  2. The midnight ramble looks amazing. I hear some pretty cool special guests pop in from time to time too (Emmylou Harris, Elvis Costello, Garth Hudson, etc.).

    I saw Levon when his voice was broke. His daught sang and he played drums. It was pretty cool, but I’d love to hear him sing live before the era is long erased.

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  4. for chrissake, i wish people would stop talking about the rambles. its all you hear about these days.

    i am planning on going to one when it warms up and i’d like to be able to get a ticket!

  5. Just saw that Three Burials movie with Tommy Lee the other day and didnt even realize Levon was in it. He plays an old blind man and he has some great lines in it. “Can you do me a favor can you kill me” “Why not your good people”

  6. The Zealous Records crew was invited up for a Ramble last April. It’s pretty amazing. The whole town comes out to help run things (park cars, security, sell baked goods). They all wore t-shirts that say “Helm Land Security”.

    His property is beautiful and the shows are held in his barn/studio. Very woodsy and upstate New York feeling. Levon is as warm and inviting as you would expect. A pretty legendary character.

    People basically hang out and there is lots of interaction between different musicians. There are also some amazing old photos from the Band days hanging throughout the studio. Everyone in the crowd was very laid back and there were no instances of stalker-style fans, which was surprising considered everyone was allowed to bring their own alcohol and what ever else they felt like ingesting.

    J, hit me up if you want me to put you in touch with his mgr or someone that can get you tickets.


  7. I’m actually going to my second ramble this week on feb 2nd. I went to my first last year in December. It is hands down the best music experience of my life. I’ve been going to roughly 35-50 shows a year for the past 5 year and the Ramble topped all of them. If your a fan of The Band, its mecca. If you are a fan of Americana and the communual music experience, its mecca. The music is fantastic and includes a diverse line up of musicians which will include one or two special guests. Some of the people that have showed up unannounced are Dr. John, Rickie Lee Jones, Emmylou Harris, Little Sammy Davis, John Medeski…the list goes on.

    Not only is the ramble on Levon’s property, it is actually IN his house. There is shampoo and toothpaste in the bathroom, magazines and shower curtains. He opens his home to the 100 lucky people who arive at his door. The music goes down in a barn that was built for music. Even the nails are wooden to ensure the best possible acoustics.

    At the ramble you find yourself settling in for a good 3 hours or more of fantastic American music, in the home of one of America’s true gifts to the music world, with 100 people who come to share his music and their food and spirits.

    Go Ramble!!!!

  8. I’ve been a fan of Levon Helm’s for 37 years. The Band is one of my all time favorite bands, one of the most important bands ever. They created a new music. Noone has accompished that since. And all the other work Levon did all through the years was absolutely wonderful. When Levon had his bout with cancer, and lost his voice, once he recovered he kept drumming, and kept contributing. He played on many great records. A few Guy Davis records, one or two Louisiana Red records, a phenomenal Ronnie Earl album, titled Ronnie Earl and friends, a Hubert Sumlin album, About Them Shoes, a wonderful Larry Thurston album, titled School For Fools (Gravediggin Man is classic Levon drumming). Levon is a trooper, and a man dedicated to music. The gift he has, he shares with us all.

    Now that Levon’s back singing, and recording his own projects, is nothing short of miraculous. I’ve seen a few of his Rambles, and always leave happy that Levon is so darn happy and well.

  9. I’m a life long fan of the Band and Levon Helm and would do anything to get some tickets to a ramble. How would I go about this? Please get back to me with some info.

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