Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Kickin' up some good dirt

Outside of good friend Tom "TKO" O'Neill, our favorite drummer of all time is Levon Helm. And with all due respect to Tom, last seen hitting the skins for the Bradenton-based Alternators Blues Band, Helm had our boy in the category of vocals. In fact Helm,  despite a bout with throat cancer a few years back, still has one of the most distinctive and enduring voices in all of Americana/folk rock/whatever you want to call it. Witness the Grammys he snagged in 2008 and 2009 for Dirt Farmer and Electric Dirt.

Of course we remember Helm mostly for his significant contributions to the Band.  In an outfit that had other great voices (Richard Manuel and Rick Danko, both sadly R.I.P.), Helm often provided backup vocals that gave the music an earthy, grounded feel. But two of the group's most memorable songs bear his indelible vocal imprint: "The Weight" and "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down."  It was his duty, being a Southern boy in a Canadian rock band.

We mention Helm today because it's time to wish him a happy 70th birthday.  Keep on keepin' on, man.  Let's raise a glass of Spotted Cow to him and other members of the May 26 Birthday Band:

Peggy Lee (1920-2002): Singer
Fever, I’m Just Wild About Harry, I’ve Got the World on a String, Mr. Wonderful

Levon Helm (1940): Drums/vocals, the Band
The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, The Weight

Ray Ennis (1942): Guitar/vocals, The Swinging Blue Jeans
Hippy Hippy Shake

Verden Allen (1944): Keyboards, Mott the Hoople
All the Young Dudes, Ballad of Mott, All the Way to Memphis

Garry Peterson (1945): Drums, the Guess Who
These Eyes, Laughing, No Time, American Woman, Share the Land

Stevie Nicks (1948): Singer, Fleetwood Mac
Dreams, Don’t Stop, Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around

Hank Williams Jr. (1949): Singer
All My Rowdy Friends, Whiskey Bent and Hell-Bound, Family Tradition


  1. I was at a friend's wedding about 15 years ago and had the pleasure of meeting John Simon who produced the first two Band records. He confirmed for me that Levon Helm is, in fact, the man.

    Now I have to go listen to "All the Young Dudes."

  2. 100% in agreement with best drummer. 1% in favor of Spotted Cow.
    If you stick with New Glarus try the Moon Man No Coastie Pale Ale.
    Then let me play The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down and pretend I'm there.

  3. Levon is a great drummer. Always in the pocket. Never overstated. But when you add his vocal.... He's the best!