Levon Helm passed away on April 12th, 2012 but just over a month before I had the pleasure of attending a concert at his home and barn in Woodstock, New York. If you’re unfamiliar, he would open his recording studio, home, and barn [all one building] to about 200 people a couple of times a month for an intimate concert. Sometimes they would announce the guests, sometimes people like Elvis Costello would just walk out of the crowd and start playing.
These Midnight Rambles were pot luck events and bring your own alcohol, share and share alike. The bottom floor was seated, first come first serve, and there was a barn loft mezzanine where you could watch as well. The special guest that night, was Mumford and Sons. These modern folk titans opened for Levon and seeing both on the same night in such an intimate venue was absolutely incredible. I had a bottle of bourbon to share, a great spot on the railing of the mezzanine, and goosebumps from head to toe for three hours.
I was devastated to hear of Levon’s passing a month later but the Midnight Rambles still continue to this day in his honor, with his band, family, and friends in attendance. The song below, Golden Bird, appeared on one of the last albums he wrote before he passed and both the song and lyrics themselves are as touching as they are heartbreaking. If you want to explore more, check out his song False Hearted Lover Blues where he sings about corn whiskey as well. Give him a listen and if you’re not familiar, go explore the offerings of this absolute musical legend.