Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Levon Helm Band and John Hiatt @ Wolftrap

Two legendary artists performed together last night at Wolf Trap, first with John Hiatt & the Combo, then the Levon Helm Band, and then Hiatt joining Helm's Band for three songs. Yes, The Weight was one of them. Hiatt & the Combo opened with Hiatt quickly showing he still has it - both vocals and energy. He can hold a note. And The Combo is a tight little band. Hiatt mixed in a couple tracks from his new CD The Open Road, including the title track and the humorous My Baby with back of the rack songs such as Tennessee Plates and Riding with The King. They also played The Tiki Bar Is Open and Cry Love. Being the opener this was he shortest set I've ever seen from Hiatt - less than ten songs. He was able to come for an encore - reaching back again - for Have A Little Faith In Me.

After a brief intermission the The Levon Helm Band came onstage with a full, full band - almost the same as last year's Route 29 Revue. His daughter Amy Helm, bassist Byron Isaacs, Larry Campbell, Teresa Williams, keyboardist Brian Mitchell, and the entire rhythm section was back. The exception, Jim Weider traded in his legendary telecaster for mostly an acoustic guitar - but with the usual mastery. Helm was able to sing on occasion this time, but considering his age and throat cancer, we were excited just to see him on stage. One of the first songs was Williams singing Long Black Veil - a great interpretation to a classic song. There was plenty of New Orleans blues from Mitchell including Leadbelly's The Bourgeois Blues. The rhythm section really came through during this part of the set with the Trombone and French Horn leading the way. What was also clearly evident is that Amy Helm can sing. What a voice. And she dotes over her father - coming back onstage to help with harmonies and checking on him often. The senior Helm still has his wits - dancing while playing the mandolin and joking with the audience. Once again, Campbell took most of the leads - the guy is a true professional - which all together makes The Levon Helm Band one of the most memorable acts we've seen. Come on Floydfest.

Visit the MyJoog Gallery for more photos and a video from both acts may be available at MyJoogTV in early August.

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