If one were pressed to come up with a catchall description of the unifying theme behind the songs of Levon Helm, both with the Band and as a solo artist, “hard times in the country” might be as good a nominee as any. It’s a theme that must have been resonating in the minds of many mid-Hudson residents as we witnessed the horrifying aftermath of the recent tropical storms in our region, when small Catskill towns seemed literally to be wiped off the map before our eyes. But country folk learn to pull together when times get hard, and artists like Helm are stepping up to help those flood-ravaged communities clean up and rebuild.
It’s not the first “flood aid” concert to be organized in our area, but it may be the biggest: “Shelter from the Storm” is coming to the Ulster Performing Arts Center (UPAC) in Kingston next Friday, November 18 at 8 p.m., and the lineup is pretty dang star-studded. Not only will the Levon Helm Band be pulling out all the stops, but Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen, Natalie Merchant, Graham Parker and two-thirds of Medeski, Martin and Wood – John Medeski and Chris Wood, to be precise – will be joining them, not to mention the ubiquitous “more to be announced.” Tickets go for $100 for Golden Circle seating and $50 general admission.
And if that’s not enough to satisfy your music jones for the weekend, head on up to Levon’s place the following night: The weekly Ramble at Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock on Saturday, November 19 beginning at 8 p.m. will also be dedicated to raising funds for the flooded communities. Hook Herrera is the only guest musician announced so far; keep checking the Ramble website at www.levonhelm.com for additions to the lineup. All seats go for $150, and seating in this intimate space is always very limited, so get your dibs in now!
All artists for both concerts are donating their time. Net proceeds of both the UPAC concert and the Midnight Ramble will benefit the Phoenicia Rotary/Sharp Committee Flood Relief, the Prattsville Relief Fund, the Mark Project and Ulster County Habitat for Humanity Flood Relief. These organizations serve the tri-county region that includes some of the areas hardest hit in the Catskill Mountains during Irene, including Phoenicia, Mount Tremper, Allaben, Big Indian, Oliverea, Fleischmanns, Clovesville, Arkville, Margaretville and Prattsville.
The sponsors of the concerts are the Bardavon 1869 Opera House, WDST Radio Woodstock 100.1 and Levon Helm Studios. Tickets to the UPAC concert can be purchased at the Bardavon box office located at 35 Market Street in Poughkeepsie, (845) 473-2072; at the UPAC box office located at 601 Broadway in Kingston, (845) 339-6088 or via TicketMaster at (800) 745-3000. For the Ramble music lineup and tickets, visit www.levonhelm.com.