Yesterday was just about perfect for a show at the zoo, and Levon and company delivered the goods.
It was right around 80 degrees at showtime, and the clear blue skies and sun felt great after we've had to endure an unusually grey summer while the rest of the country seems to have been scorching.
Grabbed a Cuban pork roast sandwich and black beans from Paseo right around the corner, met up with a couple of friends for a nice sesh, strolled through the zoo's rose garden and past a few of the big cat compounds before walking in to the sounds of Joe Pug. He was singing and playing acoustic guitar with just a pedal steel player backing him up. It was pretty effective and reminded me a little of John Prine.
Levon came out with Larry Campbell and Jim Weider on electric guitars, Theresa Williams and some other woman on acoustic guitars and vocals, a bass player that they kept hidden at the back and didn't turn up enough, a keyboardist and full horn section. Levon's drum kit was turned sideways and at the right of the stage, affording an innovative look at a drummer for the crowd as opposed to him being hidden by his kit. Levon and Larry both played mandolin at times. The horns were great, and to my ears, the charts on The Band songs sounded like the ones Allen Toussaint wrote for the "Rock Of Ages" shows. At times Levon's voice was a little worn, but the guy is a survivor and just bleeds soul. The music was great and created some nice jams that got the usually staid zoo concertgoing crowd up and moving.
Here's the setlist as much as I could remember. We were getting pretty loose with the juice in the beer garden, so I couldn't really focus on some of the less obvious selections.
Levon Helm Band
Woodland Park Zoo
August 11, 2010
The Shape I'm In
Long Black Veil
-some gospel tune with a Ray Charles feel-
? (something about Blue Mountain)
Deep Elem Blues
Blind Willie Mctell
? -Theresa Williams vocal-
All On A Mardi Gras Day
Howard Johnson, the tuba player from "Rock of Ages" is the current tuba player. Sounds like a great band.
>>> Theresa Williams and some other woman on acoustic guitars and vocals
The other female singer is Amy Helm, Levon's daughter. It is a great band. I saw them back in the spring in Nashville, and it was a fantastic show.
On Chest Fever, Larry does an amazing version of the Garth Hudson lead-in on guitar. They are well worth seeing at every opportunity.