Levon & The Hawks :: Pop Ivy’s, Port Dover, Ontario, CAN, 1964

levon hawks“We have an announcement,” says the drummer between songs. “There’s lots of corn left! So alla you who feel like havin’ a cob…” Just another glamorous gig for Levon & The Hawks, the group that less than a year later would be shattering folkie ear drums with Bob Dylan, and by decade’s end would be known as The Band. Even at this early date, the Hawks were seasoned vets, having existed in one form or another since 1958. But this lineup, featuring Levon Helm, Richard Manuel, Rick Danko, Robbie Robertson and Garth Hudson is the one the world would get to know.

This fairly miraculous (if decidedly lo-fi) tape captures what was undoubtedly just one of hundreds of similar shows for Levon & The Hawks, as the band made its way up and down the eastern seaboard, playing every dive along the way. Their repertoire — including standards by James Brown, Ray Charles, and Chuck Berry — could probably be heard in nine out of ten juke joints in the country. But one listen will show that this was no ordinary bar band. Levon and co. may have been a ways away from Big Pink, but a lot of the essential elements are in place: Manuel’s boozy croon, Robertson’s stinging guitar lines, Hudson’s swirling carnival organ and Helm’s unstoppable thump. Of course, a few things would be dropped along the way —   the punky energy of the Hawks would be tamed in favor of The Band’s bucolic reveries, and of course, Robertson’s original tunes would come to the fore. And check out the flute solo that wafts in during a storming version of the theme from “Peter Gunn.” Hard to imagine that happening during “The Weight.”   Turn this tape up and travel back in time. Maybe even have a cob or two …     words/ t wilcox

Download: Levon & The Hawks :: Pop Ivy’s, Port Dover, Ontario, BC, 1964

15 thoughts on “Levon & The Hawks :: Pop Ivy’s, Port Dover, Ontario, CAN, 1964

  1. I think you just mean “Pop Ivy’s, Port Dover, Ontario, Canada”, don’t you? BC (British Columbia) is the left side of Canada. Port Dover is a fishing and beach town on the north shore of Lake Erie. But, then, maybe you mean something else and I’m just not gettin’ it.

  2. Awesome, cant wait to listen. But I have to say (because it’s my hometown), that Port Dover is in Ontario, Canada. Ontario and BC (British Columbia) are provinces in Canada, not unlike states in the U.S.

  3. Personally, I’m interested in hearing Les Beatlettes, who obviously crossed the border from Quebec.

  4. Port Dover, IIRC was where Neil Young took his Squires for a residency back in the day. Must’ve been a happening spot in the early 60’s.

  5. Thank you–a necessary antidote to the recent well-intentioned but unavoidably misleading performance at the tribute on Sunday.

  6. not to be negative because i think this is great but the quality is almost not worth the download.

  7. there is also a show from Crang Plaza in north Toronto (known at that time as Newtonbrook, bike club territory, the Choice I think?) from that same era…both were doing the rounds on the old cassette bootleg circuit for years…these shows indeed very exciting to hear…I finally understood what all the fuss about Robbie was about when I heard these shows…

  8. I fail to see the point in posting a msg regarding a show taped 50 years ago on someone’s tiny home recorder or whatever…even if it was stuff etched onto old 78s this material would be worth hearing simply because it is important.

  9. Just read about this tape’s existence last night in Levon’s autobiography and googled it – BING, AD has it! Thanks.

    Henry, I think you may be thinking of Fort William (now Thunder Bay) where Neil and the Squires ended up.

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