Happy Birthday Levon Helm: The Ramble At The Ryman


Beloved The Band drummer Levon Helm was born in rural Arkansas on this date in 1940. Helm’s illustrious career came to an end in April 2012 when he lost his battle to cancer at the age of 71.

After coming up with The Hawks and supporting Bob Dylan, Helm and The Band carved out a prominent place in the history of rock ‘n’ roll behind their inventive approach to songwriting and purely authentic sound. Helm’s lasting legacy is apparent at his Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock, New York where the legendary musician hosted his landmark late-night “ramble” performances.

In 2008, Helm brought his ramble to the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville for a concert that coincided with the Americana Music Festival. Backed by regular collaborators, multi-instrumentalist Larry Campbell, vocalist Teresa Williams and Levon’s daughter, mandolinist Amy Helm and others, the Ramble At The Ryman featured many classic The Band songs as well as other selections from Levon’s career. Guests who appeared included Billy Bob Thornton, John Hiatt, Sheryl Crow, Buddy Miller, Sam Bush and others.

The concert was later shown as a PBS special and released as a live album that in 2012 won a Grammy Award for Best Americana Album. Click through the playlist below to watch performances of “Ophelia,” “The Wait” “The Shape I’m In,” “Rag Mama Rag” and more: