Saturday To-Do: Levon Helm | Rock Candy

Friday, June 19, 2009

Saturday To-Do: Levon Helm

Posted By on Fri, Jun 19, 2009 at 2:25 PM


6:30 p.m., Wildwood Park for the Performing Arts. $125.

Levon. Perhaps more than any other Arkansas musician, he's one we're on a first-name basis with. His story's well known: Born in Turkey Scratch, reared in Marvell and raised on Sonny Boy Williamson and KFFA radio, Helm became a Hawk — a member of Ronnie Hawkins' band — as soon as he graduated high school. Hawkins and the Hawks migrated to Canada, recruited all the Canadian future members of the band and before long the Hawks broke off on their own, initially as Levon and the Hawks. Then came Dylan and Woodstock and “Music from Big Pink” and a decade of international fame with The Band that ended, in overblown fashion, with Scorcese's “The Last Waltz.” In the years that have followed, Levon's shown his creative range, acting convincingly in films like “Coal Miner's Daughter,” “The Right Stuff” and “Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada.” He's also released a spate of critically acclaimed solo records, most recently the Grammy Award-winning “Dirt Farmer,” his first solo album in 25 years. He comes to Arkansas for two shows: one on Thursday at Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville and this one at Wildwood, which continues an annual tradition begun last year with the Louis Jordan celebration “Jump!” In advance of Helm's concert, there'll be a pre-show reception with free wine, beer and hors d'oeuvres followed by presentations, remarks and special guests, including, notably, Anna Amsden, the Phillips County woman known the world wide as “young Anna Lee” in the lyrics of “The Weight.” In concert, look for Helm and his 12-man backing band to preview songs from “Electric Dirt,” due out on June 30.

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