The Levon Helm Band
ACL Live Shots
Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., Oct. 9, 2009
The Levon Helm BandOct. 3, Zilker Park
Levon Helm was on "doctor ordered vocal rest," so he neither sang nor spoke a word. That didn't keep him from his drum kit or a turn at the mandolin while leading his massive 12-piece band. As luck would have it, the rain stopped just before they began, only to start again as they were finishing. In between, there was a boisterous trip through American music, from country to Cajun, electric blues to traditional folk. With a hearty tip of the cap to Helm's former group the Band, things kicked off with keyboard player Brian Mitchell stomping through "The Shape I'm In." From there, vocals were shared by guitarist Larry Campbell; Helm's daughter, Amy; and Campbell's wife, Teresa Williams. Williams poured her soul into "Long Black Veil," and Campbell shook things up with a couple of shout-along blues as well as a horn-laden take of the Grateful Dead's "Tennessee Jed" that mirrored Helm's latest, Electric Dirt. The bandleader got big laughs shaking a leg a couple times; he couldn't sing, but he sure could dance. Campbell's lengthy guitar solo introduced the Band's "Chest Fever," a scalding end to as engaging an hour as the weekend offered.