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Levon Helm Band
-UB's Center for the Arts-
Amherst, NY - March 6th, 2011

Concert Review - By Bob Silvestri

What a coup it was for the folks at UB's Center for the Arts to finally have the Levon Helm Band in town for a gig. The legendary drummer and vocalist for The Band is an infrequent touring artist these days with a health scare a few years back and the fact he spends a lot of time at home in Woodstock, NY where he holds his also legendary "Midnight Rambles" a group of guest musicians along with Helm and his band and a small select audience. So you can imagine the buzz in the Center on March 6th, 2011 as the sold out for months crowd waited for the show to begin. The lights dimmed and the musicians took their spots and carved right into The Band's "The Shape I'm In". While it is apparent Helm's once robust voice has been diminished due to cancer his drumming is still among the best. Holding a steady powerful rhythm all evening it was truly a treat to watch such an influential musician perform. But he wasn't the only star shining on stage. His band par excellence, consisting of Dylan vet Larry Campbell on guitar, Jim Weider on guitar, keyboardist and vocalist Brian Mitchell, Bryon Issacs on bass and the one two punch of singer guitarist Teresa Mitchell and Helm's daughter Amy Helm on vocals and guitar along with a five piece horn section, dug into the music with a passion. Mitchell and Amy Helm nearly stole the show with some incredible singing and vocal harmonies. Highlight's from the evening included The Band classics "Ophelia" and "The Weight" both sung by Levon Helm and covers of Dylan's "Blind Willie McTell", "Tennessee Jed" and "Deep Elem Blues" both associated with The Grateful Dead and a take on Leadbelly's "Bourgeois Blues". For more upcoming shows at the Center for the Arts go to www.ubcfa.org and for more information on Levon Helm check out www.levonhelm.com


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