Early in life, Amy Helm was inspired by earthy music, perhaps due to the influence of her parents, the late Levon Helm of the Band and songwriter Libby Titus Fagen ("Love Has No Pride"), and her mother's later partners, Mac "Dr. John" Rebennack and Steely Dan's Donald Fagen. Amy Helm was a founding vocalist and mandolin player in the New York-based alt-country roots band Ollabelle, with whom she recorded three albums. Encouraged by her dad, she launched the "Midnight Rambles" with him at his home and studio in Woodstock, New York. She also sang with her father's bands for 10 years until his passing in 2012. Her debut solo album, Didn’t It Rain, was released in 2015.
It seemed like the Midnight Ramble sets had rolled down the Hudson River from Woodstock to the new and intimate music venue City Vineyard in TriBeCa tonight. Helm told her audience that she was instructed to bring only one accompanist onto the small stage, but she insisted on bringing guitarist/keyboardist Connor Kennedy, guitarist Adam Minkoff, guitarist Andy Stack, percussionist Sean Dixon, and trumpeter Dan Branigan (who stood off-stage for lack of space).The set began with selections from Helm's debut album, but then gravitated to covers of songs by the Grateful Dead, Allen Toussaint, Bobby Charles, the Band, Sam Cooke, and Dave Mason. Devoid of any pop leanings, the song selection hearkened to rich homespun music traditions, and Helm brought a touch of organic soul, gospel and country to everything she sang. Both heartfelt and smoldering, Helm's delivery was highlighted by her unpolished, gutsy and expressive vocals. Helm's set seemed to have landed on the banks of the Hudson River from an earlier era, but by the same time honored the timeless elements of Americana music.
Visit Amy Helm at www.amyhelm.com.
- Didn't It Rain
- Sky's Falling
- Rescue Me
- Gentling Me
- Cotton and the Cane
- Peggy-O (Grateful Dead cover)
- Yes We Can Can (Allen Toussaint cover)
- Down South In New Orleans (Bobby Charles cover)
- Bye Bye Love (Allen Toussaint cover)
- Deep Water
- Rockin' Chair (The Band cover)
- Gloryland ([traditional] cover)
- Ain't That Good News (Sam Cooke cover)
- Only You Know and I Know (Dave Mason cover)