On Friday night, the Mrs. and I saw Levon Helm perform at The Electric Factory in Philly. It was one of the most magical musical evenings of my life. To see that man, at age 67, rock out for over 2 hours was a thing of beauty. To hear him and his band perform 7 (!!!!) BAND or BAND-related tunes was, well, there isn't even a word for it.
Helm & his band played "Rag Mama Rag", "Long Black Veil", "Chest Fever", "Ophelia", "Going Back to Memphis", and "Tears of Rage" along with a beautiful rendition of Springsteen's "Atlantic City" - all sounding fantastic. But it was the song that ended the night that got the whole crowd signing, swaying and leaping for joy while getting this writer teary-eyed and that was "The Weight". Never in a million years did I think I would hear Levon Helm singing "The Weight" (or any BAND song for that matter) yet there I was a mere 25 feet away from a legend singing one of the most famous songs in rock-n-roll history. Sweet Jesus what a perfect evening. I can't wait to attend one of his midnight rambles in Woodstock, NY.
On the way home, I got to thinking, what would The Band sound like today if they were making kiddie music? Well, I imagine they wouldn't be too far removed from the kind of music The Hollow Trees are making right now. This L.A. collective are straight ahead Americana/Traditional in form and 100% fun in nature. Their new record "Welcome to Nelsonville" is a foot-stomping good time from start to finish and is littered with a couple brilliant gems. "Welcome to Nelsonville" is a record of predomintely original tunes including the rollicking "Hootenany", which the Bear excitedly sings along to, "Ray's Music Shop" which reminds me why mom-and-pop businesses regardless of the industry they occupy are always better, and "The Nelsonville American Historical Band" - each one an excellent example of down-home country-fried goodness modern-sounding enough for even the hippest East Coast urban kids and their parents. Additionally, the track "To Morrow", while not a Hollow Tree original, is one of the most clever tunes I've ever head. Here are the Muppets doing "To Morrow":
The Hollow Trees music is sweet and refreshing like an ice cold glass of lemonade on the front porch on a mid-summer day. In short, I cannot recommend The Hollow Trees' "Welcome to Nelsonville" enough.