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Levon Helm documentary set for 2013 release

Image Credit: Rick Diamond/Getty Images

Levon Helm is truly the man of the hour.

The late drummer for The Band, who passed away on April 19 at 71, is seeing a spike in popularity. First there was the star-studded “Love for Levon” benefit concert in New Jersey; now, a 2010 documentary called Ain’t In It For My Health is set to hit theaters nationwide next year.  Shot by director Jacob Hatley, the film traces two years in Helm’s life leading up to his 2009 album Electric Dirt, which went on to win the inaugural Grammy for Best Americana Album. Much of the film’s action takes place in Helms’ famed Woodstock, NY barn, home to the Midnight Ramble concert series.

A previous Band film, Martin Scorcese’s The Last Waltz, notoriously drew Helms’ scorn for its focus on guitarist Robbie Robertson (in his 1993 autobiography, he called it “the biggest f***in’ rip-off that ever happened to The Band”).  Ain’t In It For My Health, then, should finally give the drummer and singer his due.

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Levon Helm: A vintage EW interview with the late rock legend
Bruce Springsteen honors Levon Helm with stirring rendition of ‘The Weight’
Levon Helm: 1940-2012

John Mayer, Dierks Bentley to play Levon Helm benefit concert

John Mayer, Gregg Allman, Dierks Bentley and several other musicians are getting together to pay tribute to the late Levon Helm.

The “Love for Levon” benefit concert will be held Oct. 3 at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, N.J. It will include performances from such artists as My Morning Jacket, Ray LaMontagne, Eric Church, Patty Griffin, Bruce Hornsby, Mavis Staples, and Joe Walsh. READ FULL STORY

Bruce Springsteen honors Levon Helm with stirring rendition of 'The Weight'

Bruce Springsteen fans often show up to his concerts with hand-made song-request posters, typically nominating obscure outtake titles that only a diehard would appreciate. But last night in Newark, where Springsteen was wrapping up the first leg of his Wrecking Ball tour, the Boss recognized a request that no one could have predicted. The poster read, “Play 1 for Levon,” and during the encore, Springsteen honored the memory of legendary drummer Levon Helm, who died April 19 at the age of 71 after a long struggle with cancer, with a spontaneous rendition of The Band’s song, “The Weight.”

Though Springsteen slipped in pronouncing Helm’s first name as “Levin,” his words were a noble tribute and the song was the highlight of the night. “One of the greatest voices in country rockabilly and rock and roll. Just staggering — while playing the drums! When I auditioned Max, I actually made him sing,” Springsteen said from the stage. “But Levon had a way of — both his voice and his drumming was so incredibly personal. It had a feeling on the drums, comes out of a certain place in the past, and you can’t replicate it.” Take a listen below. READ FULL STORY

Elton John on Levon Helm: 'A part of my life that was magical'


Elton John was among the many musicians influenced by Levon Helm and The Band. That impact is memorialized in the song “Levon,” which John and writing partner Bernie Taupin named after the rock legend. Thursday, John spoke with EW and shared some of his favorite memories about Helm:

“When I heard The Band’s Music from Big Pink, their music changed my life. And Levon was a big part of that band. Nigel Olson, my drummer, will tell you that every drummer that heard him was influenced by him. He was the greatest drummer and a wonderful singer and just a part of my life that was magical. They once flew down to see me in Philadelphia and I couldn’t believe it. They were one of the greatest bands of all time. They really changed the face of music when their records came out. I had no idea he was sick so I’m very dismayed and shocked that he died so quickly. But now my son [Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John] has his name.”

Read more:
Rock legend Levon Helm dies at 71
Remembering Levon Helm: A playlist
A Midnight Rambler

Remembering Levon Helm: A playlist

Levon Helm passed away Thursday, but his music lives on. The drummer and singer for the legendary band that needed no further moniker — The Band — brought a Southern twang and roots style to rock music that has influenced so many, from other major recording acts to legions of kids playing the drums in their parents’ basements.

In honor of the late master, we’ve put together an admittedly far-from-complete playlist of some of our Levon Helm favorites (and a few that he just lent his spirit to). Songs like “The Weight” and “Up on Cripple Creek” are classic The Band tunes, but we’ve also included some deep dives, like “Ain’t No More Cane” from The Basement Tapes with Bob Dylan and a few later tracks from Helm’s solo work, like “A Train Robbery” off his 2007 Dirt Farmer album. Check out the list below and suggest songs to add in the comments!

Newport Folk Festival 2010 lineup announced: Steve Martin, Swell Season, Jim James, Levon Helm, Brandi Carlile, Sharon Jones, and tons more

The lineup for the 51st annual Newport Folk Festival was just announced, and it’s a good one. Folk fans who head to Newport, R.I. this July 30-31 and Aug. 1 will get to see acts like Steve Martin (yes, that Steve Martin), playing banjo with bluegrass quintet the Steep Canyon Rangers; Once duo the Swell Season; the Band’s Levon Helm, bringing his legendary Midnight Ramble on the road; Yim Yames, a.k.a. frontman Jim James of My Morning Jacket; Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, who killed it per usual at SXSW last week; alt-country wailer Brandi Carlile, who just released a cool new video; Richie Havens, who is as awesome today as he was at Woodstock 41 years ago; skilled whistler Andrew Bird; Tao Rodriguez-Seeger, who is Pete Seeger’s grandson and a talented singer in his own right; and lots more folkies old and young.

Click through to the jump for all the performers who have been announced so far for George Wein’s Newport Folk Festival. Tickets go on sale at this Friday, March 26. Will you be buying ‘em?

Killian Mansfield: RIP

killianLast winter, teenage ukulele prodigy Killian Mansfield recorded Somewhere Else, an album that also featured the talents of Dr John, Kate Pierson from the B-52s, Todd Rundgren, and Levon Helm of legendary rockers The Band. The album was released on August 4, with proceeds going to the Killian Mansfield Foundation, which supports integrative therapies for children with cancer.

Cancer was an illness Killian knew well. At the age of 11 he was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma, and he made Somewhere Else shortly before entering hospice care. Sadly, he passed away last week.

His death is a source of particular sadness to us here at the Music Mix. One of our colleagues knew Killian and says he was a wonderful kid with a beautiful spirit.

He was certainly a talented musician, and you could do much worse than check out this sampler of Somewhere Else ,which includes memorable covers of “Express Yourself,” “Blue Skies,” and Prince’s “Kiss.”

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Levon Helm's 'Electric Dirt': Stream the legend's whole new album for free, only here

"Legend" is a term that often gets thrown around in an alarmingly casual manner. If anyone deserves that title, though, it's Levon Helm. As a drummer, he first backed Bob Dylan and then anchored the Band through several of the musical peaks of the '60s and '70s. And as a singer, in the Band and later, he's simply one of a kind. The man's voice alone, weathered and craggy even in his youth, ought to be declared some kind of national treasure.

So you can imagine how pleased the Music Mix is to be the only place where you can stream Helm's new solo album Electric Dirt, in full, for free, starting today. What are you waiting for? Cue it up below; catch up on Helm's recent activities by reading a profile that EW's Clark Collis penned in 2007; then let us know what you think of this master's latest work.

JUNE 30 UPDATE: Our free stream has ended. Electric Dirt is available for purchase in stores and online as of today.

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