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Midnight Rambles Carry On Without Levon Helm

Levon Helm
Rick Diamond, Getty Images

The Midnight Ramble, the intimate concerts Levon Helm of the Band held in his Woodstock, N.Y. barn, are continuing, even though the drummer and singer passed away on April 19. The shows resumed May 26, with the second taking place on June 8.

“The first one, we went in with the attitude that it was a tribute to Levon,” Larry Campbell, Helm’s longtime guitarist, told Rolling Stone. “It was his birthday , and the first [show] since he died. We were all sort of prepared – we had him in mind, and he was there in spirit.” However, the second “was more back into the routine. And I’d look over to my left, and he wasn’t there. His absence was really felt.”

Helm began the Midnight Rambles in 2004 while he was recuperating from throat cancer. Needing money for his bills, he assembled a band, featuring his daughter Amy and Campbell, and invited fans up into his barn. He took the name “Midnight Ramble” from the late night, adult-oriented portions of the traveling shows he attended growing up in Arkansas in the 1940s and 1950s.

Throughout the years, many of Helm’s musical peers, as well as younger artists influenced by Helm, made guest appearances at the Ramble. Amy Helm believes that the spirit of music and community her father fostered will continue even after his death.

“People want to be a part of something,” she said. “It’s a party. That’s part of its magic. We’re honoring him, and hopefully doing what he would want us to do, by building opportunities for music to be made and people to have a good time.”

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