Levon Helm’s Midnight Ramble w/ AOD, Woodstock, 8.28.2010

Travel/Preshow: This night was incredible.  After an amazing evening filled with a pre-birthday celebration, which included music from Marco Benevento, Joe Russo, Bobby Lee Rodgers, and some dancing to techno underneath Sullivan Hall, the next day I took a ride up to the country to see Assembly of Dust open for Levon’s Midnight Ramble.

We maneuvered our way in onto Levon’s property.  Breathtaking.  You drive in, past the studio and house, and there is a parking lot, about 3 rows deep and maybe 10-15 cars wide.  There is a lake to the left of the parking lot.  It is quiet.  It was dusk at this point.  We met up with other music junkie friends and they surprised me with a chocolate cake.  I was told to scream as loud as I could, we were all to scream because it is a tradition in Africa (?) to scream away the bad spirits for a good new year.  Ok, I’ll scream.

My friends and I went up to the studio, graced by beautiful granite stones leading into the most beautiful barn/studio I have ever been into.  Exposed beams, raw wood surrounding you – the rules were you could only bring plastic cups or bottles of water in the studio – wouldn’t want to spill in Levon’s home of course.  Assembly of Dust opens, and you can feel the energy. The band was psyched, the energy was magic, the place was magic.

Assembly of Dust: There were seats surrounding the stage, not really a raised stage, but more like an area where the band could stand and sing, seats surrounding that space.  The balcony looked perfect to lean over and watch the band below rock out.  I stood in the back, near the stairs with my friends, and was thankful I wasn’t in a chair because I had enough room to dance.

AOD rocked it, Reid’s songs so beautiful, Adam Terrell’s guitar shedding sweetness to the bouncing walls, Jason Crosby on keys and fiddle, perfect for the woods of upstate NY.  John Leccesse on bass.  The smiles were bright and shiny in that studio/barn, the band beaming at the audience, the audience beaming back to them.  Oh yes, this was a beautiful thing.  Dancing with friends, birthday evening, special, intimate music moments happening.  Beautiful.

Assembly of Dust’s partial set list: 2nd song, Edges, Bootleggers, Cold coffee, Sometimes, Honest hour, Samuel aging

Set Break: We hung out with some more friends I knew, all of us marveling at where we were, how amazing this is, how cool, special, amazing, beautiful.  Laughing, meeting new friends, my face hurt from smiling. We went back to the car, to grab more water and eat more of the food we had brought from last night’s party, and grabbed the watermelon and the rest of the birthday cake to share on the community table downstairs from the studio.  I sat in the grass with a new found best friend and we giggled like the girls we were until the next set started.

Levon Helm’s Midnight Ramble w/ special guest Steve Earle

Um.  Yeah.  First of all, I was blown away at what I was seeing on stage.  I don’t even know the names of the players in the Levon Helm Band, there are about 7 or 8 people on stage, singers, back up singers, guitarists, acoustic guitarists, percussionists, LEVON, horns.  Amazing.

Steve Earle shows up and plays with his son, Justin-whats two more guitarists on the stage.  My friend whispers in my ear, he had a feeling Steve Earle would show up.  I, personally, have never seen Steve Earle play live before, and I was stunned.  I can’t believe my eyes, my cheeks hurt from smiling.  I am blessed, and I know it.  This new birthday year has begun like no other.  I’m in heaven

The music ranged from bluegrass, to raging rock, to a sweet spanish love song, back to more raging rock, incredible guitar playing, Levon NEVER MISSING A BEAT.  I was grabbed and spun around in a dancing frenzy in the back of the studio, happier than a clam, floating into the magic of the Ramble.

I slipped out of there and could hear the music as my friend and I made our way to the lake, specifically the hammock near the lake, under the clear summer evening.  I gazed at the moon and the stars, realizing that I don’t see many stars in the city, and I miss them.  More than I thought.  Just a moment in solitary thought before we went back inside.  We made it for the last song, of course Levon’s infamous The Weight, and Assembly of Dust joined in.  The picture to the left is contraband.  Shhh, don’t tell anyone.

Fabulous.  Go.  Experience it.  It’s so worth it.

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