Originally, the purpose for The Midnight Rambles at Levon Helm’s Woodstock home-recording studio – otherwise referred to as The Barn – was to serve as a way for the legendary drummer of The Band to recoup money from his mounting medical bills after battling and overcoming throat cancer. Helm’s iconic and unmistakable voice was down to barely a raspy whisper after radiation treatments which forced him into resting his vocal chords.
While he had to rely on his capable band to provide the vocals, Helm was able to return to his signature perch behind his drum kit for what must have provided a cathartic release till he was ultimately able to sing again. Over the years the legend of the Rambles have grown, with everyone from Elvis Costello to Dr. John to Donald Fagen to former bandmate Garth Hudson showing up and sitting in with Levon.
When an invite was extended to head upstate to take in a night at The Barn, as a monster fan of The Band I was salivating at the opportunity to see Levon in such an intimate and undeniably unique setting. Since I couldn’t make it out to Indio for Festival 8, a Halloween Midnight Ramble was the next logical choice. Pulling into the sleepy town of Woodstock in the late afternoon on an overcast and rainy late fall day, we were greeted to a full-on Halloween parade by the locals in the streets of the small downtown area that helped to set the tone and atmosphere for the rest of the evening.
READ ON for more of Jeff’s All Hallow’s Eve experience…