November 17, 2008

Worth "The Weight"

Levon Helm's house, taken by my brother August '08

I pulled into Nazareth, was feelin' about half past dead;
I just need some place where I can lay my head.
"Hey, mister, can you tell me where a man might find a bed?"
He just grinned and shook my hand, and "No!", was all he said.

Take a load off Fanny, take a load for free;
Take a load off Fanny, And (and) (and) you can put the load right on me.
-- The Weight, The Band

This weekend was a rare weekend away from the shore house. We headed up to Woodstock, NY, to see one of rock and roll's legends, Levon Helm, in concert. AT HIS HOUSE.

Yup...we went to one of the often talked about and somewhat elusive
Midnight Rambles that Levon Helm swings his barn doors open for. (Tickets can be a tough get, unless you're a stalker like my brother. And I mean that in a good way.)

Levon Helm was the drummer and vocalist for
The Band. The seminal 1960s rockers that a little song writer by the name of Bob Dylan hung around with. The musicians that convinced a young bloke named Eric Clapton to go solo (he was so inspired by The Band's music, he wanted to explore a path that would lead him to develop a sound more like them, so the story goes). They shaped American rock and roll music. They broke up on Thanksgiving Day, 1976. Many people (including Levon Helm, I think) blame guitarist Robbie Robertson for the breakup, so what the heck -- I will too.

In recent years, tragedy struck Levon's unique, raspy and rootsy singing voice. His bio puts it best: "In 1996, Levon was diagnosed with throat cancer and the famous voice with the rich southern nuances was silenced to a whisper." In what can only be described as a rock and roll miracle, Levon not only recovered from cancer, his voice is back and, dare I say, better than ever. I saw him this summer expecting an OK show, where I'd maybe even feel a little bad for him. But he blew the roof off the place. Hence, accelerated interest in going to a Midnight Ramble.

My brother the quick moving super-duper music fan found out through his insanely good stalking skills that there was going to be a Midnight Ramble on his birthday. He went to his first Midnight Ramble this summer, and when I read again today what he wrote back in August he pretty much hit the nail on the head. But he's a writer and all, so that's a good thing.

Levon's house is deep in the Woodstock woods...And at night (in the pouring rain) this is all you'll see:

It is a VERY intimate space. We weren't allowed to take photos inside but here's one from Levon's web site:

Talk about a great party space!

I did snap a few shots before heading inside, of the "community food table" that guests are encouraged to bring food for:
And, this sign that totally set the laid back tone for the evening:

I also loved this portrait of Muddy Helm, Levon's companion (who the mister and I went looking for, and found. Much to the dog's chagrin. He barked for a solid 10 minutes. Oops.):

There's not enough space in this post for me to tell you how wonderful this show was (especially since my blog has nothing whatsoever to do with music!), but by the time the show ended with a stage full of musicians (including
Cassandra Wilson, and the original keyboard player for The Band Garth Hudson -- what a treat!) singing The Weight, I was smiling ear-to-ear. Much like Levon does through the ENTIRE two-hour show. Because he loves what he does. Loves that he's alive to do it. And that.

As if that all wasn't enough, we were in the first row, stage right (no "stage," so in theory we were on stage with the musicians. Sweet.). When Levon exited he warmly shook the hands of many of the folks up front. When he got to me, Levon firmly grasped my right hand in both of his, lifted it to kiss it, then with that magical grin said, "Thank you so much for coming out tonight."

At that point I think I died and went to rock and roll heaven.

ANYWAY...yes; I had a great weekend. We went into the town of Saugerties on Saturday for a little antiquing. Sadly disappointing. Everything there is MUCH more expensive than it was in my early days of thrifting. We almost left empty handed, but there was a store going out of business (Arcadia, which I was sorry to was one of my favorites to pop in on up there) where we scooped up a stainless steel bistro chair (whose photo I forgot to take -- coming soon!) and some Cucina hand soap at 30% off. As I type this, I'm realizing that at $13 (at least $22 in the city), I should have bought more fancy soap.

We stayed at the Woodstock Inn on the Millstream, in one half of this cute little cottage in the woods:

I loved that tree outside our door, and was tempted to take more than just a picture (but decided they may not appreciate my tree trimming):

Sunday it was off to the tiny town of Phoenicia, home to Sweet Sue's -- the remarkably always busy restaurant (every seat was filled -- about 70 people -- on a nasty, Sunday afternoon) in the middle of nowhere with pancakes that are totally worth the trip. Here's my brother's "short stack" (!!) of buttermilk pumpkins, with the vintage birthday cake topper I bought for him on eBay:

Also in the tiny town is Tender Land Home, one of my favorite stores. (I always find something to buy there. So does my mom, who may still be there today. She was buying up the joint.) Here's where I scored a total coup -- Cavallini & Co. 2009 calendars are half off! That's $10.99 for these beauts. I bought Farmer's Market this year:

Well, that was a very thorough look at my weekend. Hope yours was lovely, too.

And guess what? This is my 99th post. Super special 100th later this week.


The Quintessential Magpie said...


Neat story. That is so wonderful that he was healed of throat cancer and can sing again! Praise God! I always loved The Band in my youth. And I loved that funny sign he has! LOL!

What a cute little cottage where you stayed, and that berry shot is beautiful. And I'm very glad you came away alive from the looks of that pooch, particularly if he was barking madly. ;-)

Neat calendar, and that little bowling guy is a stitch!

Thanks for sharing,

Sheila :-)

tam said...

Oh My Gosh how freakin cool that you got to do that! Right on sister! I totally envy I will be honest I am down right jealous-LoL! I would say it sounds like you had a perfect weekend!!!
Hope you week goes as groovy as that!
~Tam :D

Diane@A Picture is Worth.... said...

Hi Laura,
It is a miracle that he was healed! I enjoyed your post of your weekend...sounds like fun!


Sandy Toes said...

How fun..100th post!!! I love that farmer's poster!
New to your blog..but I love the beach theme or shore!
-sandy toes

pve design said...

Laura, you rock on girl!
Great story and love that we could have bumped into one another at Sweet Sue's or Tenderland Home which are both great spots.
Looks like a great weekend!

black eyed susans kitchen said...

Wow, wow, wow! You are one lucky ducky. I used to love the band. I guess that I still do. Funny, we were just up in Vermont and stopped in Woodstock, up there. That was a wonderful post. Oh, and thank you for the scarf, I will be posting about it today. Susan

Renovation Therapy said...

OMG. I'm going to scream. I forgot about that show. OMG. OMG. OMG.

j.cro said...

That story about Levon rivals your story about seeing Richard Butler at Maxwell's! (I LOVE that story, btw)

PS - The antique's luncheon was apparently canceled - so you didn't miss that either! (I slept in VERY late and would have missed it - but didn't - YAY!)

Linda Lou said...

what a fun weekend! I love Woodstock and the charming inns and antique stores in that area...I remember seeing The Band and Bob Dylan play together at a place I think was called The Nassau Coliseum back in about 1975!!!

Julia @ Hooked on Houses said...

Wow! What a fun post! I loved reading all about Levon and his dog and how people bring food and everything. I think that is so cool. I'm afraid nothing I did this past weekend even comes close...

Liz said...

How fun is this post? Am I crazy or was Levon Helm in The Coal Miner's Daughter?

Renovation Therapy said...

There's another one on 12/20. Maybe that will be my holiday present to myself.

heidi said...

I am SO jelly!! Was Robbie Robertson there? If so, I might have to kill you.

Pat said...

It's all so fabulous Laura! There is nothing as thrilling as meeting a singer/song writer that you've admired for a long time! Levon Helm, no less, wow and what a wonderful venue!

I haven't been upstate in ages. My Momuse to go to thre Catskills for the summer but she hasn't been able to the last few years. I miss all those little communities and stores.

So glad you had sucha great time and were able to find a few nice bargains too!

Hugs, Pat

Ms. Tee said...

What a great weekend!!!
Your photos are awesome, too - especially those berries!
But I have to say, my very favorite thing is that vintage cake topper - I LOVE it! ;)

Joyce said...

Yahoo... your weekend sounded fun, fun, fun... Those short cakes look so mmmm.... I love the vintage bowler, double bonus.

Anonymous said...

How FUN Laura!! What a weekend, despite the rain and high priced antiques. ;-) I'm so glad it worked out well!

vicki archer said...

Fantastic weekend - you made me feel all goosy reading about that old rocker. There is nothing like live performance - especially in a beautiful rustic setting like that. Very fun for your brother too - birthday and all.
What about those pancakes - I want to come to America!

muralimanohar said...

Super special 100th?? How on earth are you going to manage to top your 99th?? I am INSANELY jealous that you got to meet a god of rock in such an amazing space. INSANELY jealous.

Richie D. said...

please sir said...

What a weekend - looks worth it indeed!