Happy Birthday Rick Danko: Performing Live With The Band In 1973

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Today marks what would have been Rick Danko’s 77th birthday. The Band singer-songwriter and bassist was born on December 29, 1943 in Blayney, Ontario, Canada. Rick died on December 10, 1999 at just 55 years old. Hailing from a musical family, Danko began his music career at an early age, joining Ronnie Hawkins & The Hawks at 17 after his band The Starlights opened up for the group.

The Hawks included drummer Levon Helm and later pianist Richard Manuel, multi-instrumentalist Garth Hudson and guitarist Robbie Robertson. After gaining invaluable live performance chops on the road with Hawkins, most of the aforementioned members would strike off on their own, a move that proved fruitful as The Band prototype soon wound up as the backing band for Bob Dylan during the formative and often tumultuous “Dylan Goes Electric” period.

After touring with Dylan, the group struck out on their one once again and The Band was officially born in 1967. In 1968 they released their debut album, Music From The Big Pink. The Band then embarked on a prolific recording and performing period, releasing a self-titled sophomore album in 1969, Stage Fright in 1970 and Cahoots in 1971 along with a live album, Rock Of Ages, in 1972 and a covers album called Moondog Matinee in 1973.

On July 28 of that year, The Band would find themselves performing with the Allman Brothers Band and the Grateful Dead for the legendary Summer Jam at Watkins Glen in upstate New York. Less than a week later, The Band would open for the Grateful Dead at Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City, New Jersey for a two night run. To mark Danko’s birthday, JamBase takes a look at the show from August 1, 1973 (Sidenote: August 1, 1973 was Jerry Garcia’s 31st birthday).

The show was captured for posterity on a live album released in 2000, but a YouTube audio video from 2014 posted by the account arghdos appears to include most of if not all of the performance as The Band’s website note’s that Garth Hudson’s “Genetic Method” was cut from the live album but is included in the YT audio. The 2000 live album also featured a track from the night before (July 31), “Saved,” which does not appear on the YouTube audio video.

Read an excerpt from The Band’s website penned by Jon Lyness detailing the show below:

The 2nd show blows away the first in every way, tying or surpassing Watkins Glen as the definitive show from that middle period of the original group. The sound is phenomenal, with all of the instruments sounding crisp and in-your-face, and the Band sounds like they are at the top of their game. A fairly pedestrian setlist (for the time) is elevated by smoking, confident performances by each and every member. Robbie’s guitar in particular stands out…but they all really outdo themselves on this one. Several of the songs (“Back to Memphis”, “Chest Fever”, & others) even feature extended instrumental verses which are breathtaking…I’ve never heard the original lineup jam so much!

The concert kicks off with Chuck Berry’s “Going Back To Memphis” stylized by The Band as “Back To Memphis.” The song didn’t appear on the cover album “Moondog Matinee” but was featured as an outtake on a 2001 tissue of the LP. The set also contains Band classics like “The Shape I’m In,” “The Weight (which cuts in), “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” “Life Is A Carnival” “Up On Cripple Creek” and more. The penultimate song of the set is a stellar “Chest Fever” followed by set closer “The W.S. Walcott Medicine Show.”

To celebrate Rick Danko’s birthday, listen to the band’s August 1, 1973 concert from Roosevelt Stadium in New Jersey below:

Setlist & Times:

  • 01 Back To Memphis 00:00
  • 02 Tuning 06:29
  • 03 Loving You 07:56
  • 04 Tuning 12:44
  • 05 The Shape I’m In 14:13
  • 06 The Weight (cuts in) 18:39
  • 07 Stage Fright 23:30
  • 08 I Shall Be Released 28:19
  • 09 Don’t Do It 31:47
  • 10 Tuning 38:37
  • 11 Endless Highway 39:19
  • 12 The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down ~ 44:44
  • 13 Across The Great Divide 48:35
  • 14 Jersey Jam 52:01
  • 15 This Wheel’s On Fire 55:41
  • 16 Life Is a Carnival 59:33
  • 17 Share Your Love 01:05:16
  • 18 Up On Cripple Creek 01:08:39
  • 19 Genetic Method ~ 01:13:04
  • 20 Chest Fever 01:18:40
  • 21 Tuning 01:24:19
  • 22 The W.S. Walcott Medicine Show 01:25:07

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