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Posts Tagged ‘Ronnie Hawkins’

Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks (Later known as The Band)I spent ninety percent of my money on wine, women and song and just wasted the other ten percent.

–Ronnie Hawkins

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I wasn’t going to post anything today but while I was doing a few morning exercises a song came on that really sparked me.  I realized soon after that I had never played it on the blog which I found kind of remarkable since I consider it one of my favorites.  It’s a song called Come Love from the great Canadian  rocker Ronnie Hawkins.  I say Canadian because though he hails from Arkansas  he gained his greatest fame and settled down in Canada.

He played his music and lived his life on his own terms– that being hard and furious– from the 1950’s onward.  A lot of great musicians played behind him over the years as part of his band, The Hawks, most notably the entire group that later formed The Band.  You can see them in the photo above as they learned the chops that carried to their own greatness.  A renowned showman, Ronnie also was famed for his own version of the Moonwalk many years pre-Michael Jackson.

This song is not one of his hard chargers although its guitar lines do have a bite in them.  It has a really cool flow to it.  When  I hear it I think that it sounds how I would like to go through life, like a cool trickle of water in an easy flowing stream.

Just saying…

Give a listen and have a great day.

 

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It was announced yesterday that Levon Helm in is the “final stages” of the battle he has waged with throat cancer since 1996. Levon is best known as the drummer/vocalist for the legendary group that started in the eary 60’s as the backing band, The Hawks, for early rockabilly star Ronnie Hawkins and later came to fame as The Band behind Bob Dylan as he made the sometimes rocky transition from folk to rock.  On their own, The Band had a number of songs that have become classics over the years– The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, Up On Cripple Creek, The Weight, The Shape I’m In and so on.  Levon , guitarist Robbie Robertson  and organist Garth Hudson are the only remaining living  members of  The Band.

Levon Helm has also been acclaimed as an actor, best known for playing the father of Loretta Lynn in the movie Coal Miner’s Daughter.  His coal miner portrayal in the film had a dead-eyed authenticity that , for me, really made the entire movie seem alive.  It’s the same authenticity that he seems to bring to everything.  I always feel like I’m seeing the real person when I see Levon Helm, even when he’s a character in a film.

The Band-- Levon is 2nd from left.

His life after The Band has had ups and downs.  Following his initial battle with cancer, he found himself in dire financial straits with the weight of huge medical bills pulling him down.  He started hosting a series of concerts, called Midnight Rambles,  at his home/studio in Woodstock, NY in order to raise money to pay his bills.  Because of the damage done to his throat he relied on a series of high profile guests to sing until his voice was strong enough to begin to sing once more, which was several years later in 2004.  This series of concerts revitalized his career and led to his last three albums, Dirt Farmer, Electric Dirt and  Ramble at the Ryman, a live set recorded at the legendary Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.  Both Electric Dirt and Ramble at the Ryman won Grammy Awards in the Americana category.

As I said above, I always had the feeling that what you saw with Levon Helm was what you got. Natural, without artifice.  This world is going to miss the loss of  a real person, maybe the highest compliment of which I can conceive.  Good travels, Levon.

  Here’s one of my favorites from The Band, The Weight, shot in 1970 during the fabled Festival Express.

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