Upstate, NY Scene: Levon Helm's Midnight Ramble
My wife and I recently attended Levon Helm's Midnight Ramble in beautiful Woodstock, NY. We had decided to take a mini vacation in the beatiful Catskill mountains of New York. We fell in love with this area a few years back while attending a wedding and since then we have made it a point to go back as much as we can. This time we stayed in the small mountain town of Phoenicia, NY(13 miles from Woodstock). Nestled amongst the Catskills, the tiny lodge we stayed in was affordable ( 67 bucks a night!)cozy and not a bad view in sight. The only sounds out our window were of the river. Amazing. Spiritual.
After a few days of relaxing, hiking ( as much as we could considering I have a pregnant wife) and just taking in the natural beauty of this area and the laid back life-style it was time to go to Levon's house/studio. Of course, we had scoped it out prior and from the pine tree lined street it looked amazing. "Gates" opened at 6:00. We got there about 6:15 and were greeted by some of Levon's staff who seemed so excited for the event and even more excited that this was our first time. We pulled into the grassy parking lot near Levon's pond. Again, the natural beauty of this area stood out. Beautiful pond, pine tree's and of course the infamous Overlook mountain. Stunning. And for this show, you know that everyone is there for Levon. I think it's safe to say that there was not anyone at this show who was just bored on a Saturday night and decided to drop $150.00 on a ticket to see Levon. Smiling faces everyone. Beer in coolers, a few joints being passed around. A small, chilled and friendly crowd.
Doors open at 7:00 and it is first come basis as far as seating goes. My wife and I find a few seats upper left balcony, about 40 feet in front of Levon. Perfect. A Local Woodstock band opened the show. Pretty mellow acoutsic stuff. Not to bad, good way to warm up the show.
After about an hour of this, Levon comes out; looking frail, and very old. But with that Levon smile! Right off the bat his band; four horn players, Levon, his daughter, a piano player and Larry Campbell. They unleash into "The Shape I'm In". Classic. From there we got a mix of The Band songs, songs off of his last two albums, a Dylan song, and two Grateful Dead songs. Between songs, after the applause all that you could hear were the sounds of crickets and frogs coming from outside. It was kind of surreal. The set-list was amazing, his house was amazing, he was amazing. The night was magical. They advertise this as Levon and 200 of his closest friends. I know that Levon is not my friend and that I dropped 300 bucks for this show. But on this Saturday night I honestly felt like I was hanging with my friends taking in music from what I consider an American Treasure.