Remembering Rick Danko: The Band Live In New Orleans 1994
Legendary The Band bassist and singer-songwriter Rick Danko died on this date in 1999. Born on December 29, 1943 in Blayney, Ontario, Rick grew up in a musical family, solidifying his multi-talented musical skills and putting him on the road to becoming a professional musician at an early age.
He joined Ronnie Hawkins & The Hawks at 17, which featured future Band drummer Levon Helm. Just a few years after joining the Hawks, Danko, Helm and others would back up one of the biggest musicians in the world, Bob Dylan, in the notorious “Dylan Goes Electric” period. Members of the Dylan backing group would go on to form The Band in the late 1960s, becoming one of the most influential groups of their generation.
On April 22, 1994 Danko and The Band — featuring original members Danko, Helm and multi-instrumentalist Garth Hudson along with keyboardist Randy Ciarlante, guitarist Jim Weider and drummer Richard Bell — would perform at Lakefront Arena in New Orleans during the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. The Band had opened up for The Allman Brothers Band earlier in the day and went on to play a night show at Lakefront, captured for posterity in the concert film The Band – Live At The New Orleans Jazz Festival, released on Laserdisc in 1996 and later on DVD in 1998.
The career-spanning set kicked off with the proto-rock ‘n’ roll tune “Caldonia,” which featured a sax solo from Hudson, followed by the latter day Band classic “Remedy. Danko would then lead the band through the JJ Cale cover “Crazy Mama” on lead vocals and guitar (with Levon on bass). The set also included one of Danko’s signature songs, “It Makes No Difference.” Written by original Band guitarist Robbie Robertson, Danko sang lead on the poignant tune. Interestingly — and according to The Band’s website, “unforgivable” — the song was listed as “The Sun Don’t Shine Anymore” in the tracklist for the concert film.
The latter half of the set contained some of The Band’s most well-know material including the Levon Helm led “Rag Mama Rag,” the group’s classic cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Atlantic City,” the 60s sing-a-long anthem “The Weight,” soul staple “Don’t Do It” and set closer “The Shape I’m In.”
To remember Rick Danko, watch The Band – Live At The New Orleans Jazz Festival below:
Set: Caldonia, Remedy, Crazy Mama, The W.S. Walcott Medicine Show, Stuff You Gotta Watch, Blind Willie McTell, The Sun Don’t Shine Anymore (It Makes No Difference), Rag Mama Rag, Atlantic City, The Weight, Don’t Do It, Blues Stay Away From Me, Shape I’m In