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« March 22, 2013

Tribute to Levon Helm

Final SXSW Live Shots
Review by Jim Caligiuri

Tribute to Levon Helm

Auditorium Shores, March 16

The outpouring of love for Levon Helm after his passing last April came from all corners of the planet. This all-day event both celebrated his catalog and raised funds for Keep It Goin', which continues the Band drummer/singer's legacy with special events called Midnight Rambles at his barn in Woodstock, New York. JJ Grey, the afternoon's MVP, showed off a horn-laden style of blues with his band Mofro and introduced the first version of "The Weight," which was more funk than gospel. Steve Earle followed with a short acoustic set that included a song from his upcoming disc, The Low Highway, and ended with the obligatory "Copperhead Road." Robert Randolph took the pedal steel to places it rarely goes, and his rolling rhythms and screaming guitars came mighty close to the heyday of the Allman Brothers to the delight of most. Grey's reappearance to sing Bill Withers' "Use Me" was soul-stirring. The Midnight Ramble Band, members of the Levon Helm Band and veteran players from the Rambles, headlined heavy on songs from the Band, with Earle guesting on a rollicking "Rag Mama Rag," and Austin's Carolyn Wonderland vamping her way through "Don't Do It." The anticipated ending, everyone onstage roaring "The Weight," left some teary-eyed.

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