Gonzo Country / Levon Helm / Video Tribute

Turnstyled Junkpiled’s Last Ramble For Levon

Statement From Turnstyled Junkpiled:
When we first found out that Levon Helm was in his final days, it came as a shock.  We wanted to do something. We had to. Thanks to the Los Angeles roots community, it wasn’t difficult to come up with a way to pay tribute. We all banded together at the last minute, to show our love and support, each in our own unique way.

Last year, when I heard  Levon’s contribution to The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams, “You’ll Never Again Be Mine,” it stood out as something truly special.  I wrote:

Bob Dylan, like Hank Williams, is that kind of songwriter. One who can evoke deep imagery and mood with little more than simple chord progression. Vocally, Levon Helm is a master of just that.  “You’ll Never Again Be Mine,” sounds like Helm is about to roll up to his barn on a tractor, pull up a bale of hay, drink a sweet tea and jam with some hillbillies. There’s something about the former (The) Band drummer’s tone that just sounds like the South and with this cool breeze of a tune, he’s managed to nicely marry his signature style with that of his Alabama born predecessor.

Levon had a gift for turning even a song about heartache into what sounded like a sunny day in the South.  And he had a tremendous respect for the words of others.  Though he made the song his own, he made sure that Hank’s spirit was there with him. He paid tribute in a way  that showed understanding, kinship and passion.  We recognized “You’ll Never Again Be Mine” with our award for “Song of the Year.”

Like Hank Williams, Levon may be gone, but he is and will remain a driving force in music and an inspiration to all. Thank you to the following artists who helped us celebrate Levon’s life and music through words and song. A special thanks to Kim Grant, for her help and recommendations.    – Courtney Sudbrink, Editor

Set List: 1. The Whispering Pines “Ain’t No More Cane” / 2. The Coals “When I Paint My Masterpiece” / 3. Ted Russell Kamp feat. Mark W. Lennon “Long Black Veil” / 4. Mark W. Lennon feat. Ted Russell Kamp “Ophelia” / 5. Funky Jenn and The Bad Intentions feat. Ted Russell Kamp “I Shall Be Released” / 6. Rod Melancon “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” / 7. Brian Spence & The Transcendent Hula Hoop “Evangeline” / 8. Jason Heath & The Greedy Souls “This Wheel’s On Fire” / 9. Billy Eli “Up On Cripple Creek”* / 10. Damngivers “It Makes No Difference” / 11. The Far West feat. Jennifer Gibbons and Ben Redell “The Weight”
*All artists from Los Angeles unless otherwise noted. All videos recorded for Turnstyled Junkpiled.

Turnstyled Junkpiled’s Last Ramble For Levon
A TJ exclusive online video concert

The Whispering Pines “Ain’t No More Cane”:
Levon meant a great deal to us. So much so that we named our band in homage to his. Although I don’t think any of us ever got to meet him, we did come to know some of the people in his band and organization a little. Each one we met was a warm, generous and good person. So, If one’s character can be judged by the quality of their friends then Levon is indeed a king amongst men! Goodbye Levon and thanks for the music.
Joe Bourdet (The Whispering Pines)

The Coals “When I Paint My Masterpiece”:
Words will never do Levon justice. I suppose a poem might, but unfortunately I don’t write poems. You can’t really “like” Levon or “appreciate” Levon. You can recognize that he was a gift. Levon was one of those drummers that every drummer studies. But none of them sounds anything like Levon. Which is too bad. Levon never sang a word he didn’t believe or a note that didn’t matter. And have you ever seen a singer smile so much? Levon made you feel like the music belonged to everyone. He was just sharing it. Levon had taste and he exercised it all the time. I’m not sure what the name Levon means. To me, it means joy, fearlessness, and selflessness. If there’s a band in heaven, I guarantee you they just tossed Levon a pair of sticks and asked him to take a seat on the drum throne. – Jason Mandell (The Coals)

Ted Russell Kamp feat. Mark W. Lennon “Long Black Veil”:
Levon Helm and the Band truly changed my life. The way Levon and The Band combined the traditions of American roots music with their own take on songwriting and being a band, was truly inspirational for me. Every song I write, every live show I do and every record I make have overt nods to Levon Helm and how much I have loved his music over the years. He had such a singular and unique voice while singing or playing any instrument he touched. His integrity, his voice and his attitude will be sorely missed in this world but will live in every musician and music lover he has moved and influenced. – Ted Russell Kamp

Mark W. Lennon feat. Ted Russell Kamp “Ophelia”:
From “Ain’t No More Cane” to “Acadian Driftwood,” to the closing curtain of The Last Waltz to the last call for the Midnight Rambles – one of the purest voices that helped define Roots music. Levon Helm is THE blue print for dynamic drumming and a genuine smile and he has left his mark on all of us. I, like so many others in my endless quest for music, found The Band during my Dylan phase around the age of 19 and have never been the same. To this day, I still can’t get enough soaring harmonies, dynamic pauses and good old fashion stories that take you away to a different time and place, where you aren’t quite sure what world you’re in today or 100 years ago. And how many people do you know who have said, “how the heck does he sing like that while playing the drums!” almost every time he’s mentioned. – Mark W. Lennon

Funky Jenn & The Bad Intentions feat. Ted Russell Kamp “I Shall Be Released”:
Levon Helm’s influence on American music is beyond measure. His voice and his music is ageless and timeless. To say he was one of the greatest drummers of all time is akin to calling Mount Rushmore a nice rock. Levon is a national treasure, an American hero and his music will be played for many generations to come.
– Jennifer Gibbons

Rod Melancon “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”:
Levon Helm was such a rare musician. Not only am I inspired by his musi, but also by his attitude. He was such a great person. They don’t make folks like Levon anymore. – Rod Melancon

Brian Spence & The Transcendent Hula Hoop “Evangeline”:
When I think of Levon Helm I am taken back to a time stretching well before the 1960ʼs. I am reminded of the rich, heroic and often tragic history of United States, spoken through the most organic of forms in the language of music. I feel the mud underneath my shoes. I hear the hooves of galloping horses, the rasps of musket fire and the smell gunpowder in the air. Farmers drive their mules across acres of farmland. And at the center of town on a dirt road main street sits a painted caravan, where stands a man in a suit on a wood crate, preaching the medicinal benefits of his magic, cure all, elixir. The paddle wheel of a large riverboat churns water and carries itʼs lavishly dressed passengers down the delta. School children sit in a one room schoolhouse with a slate on their lap and chalk in their hand while the clanking of sledgehammer to metal reverberates across the open plains as the poor and the immigrant toils away in the hot sun laying down track after mile of track on the railway line towards western expansion. At dusk a large, round, orange, full moon rises, then sits itself just above the Eastern horizon, signally a time of harvest just before the harsh, Winter cold sets in. And through it all thereʼs hope and a tension in the souls of all Americans that still drives in the struggle for human dignity and prosperity. – Brian Spence

Jason Heath & The Greedy Souls “This Wheel’s On Fire”:
I remember hearing the vinyl recording of “the great white wonder” for the first time…it would later become “the basement tapes” the infamous bootleg recordings of Bob Dylan with The Band. It was loaned to me by a guitar playing substitute teacher of mine by the name of Gary Frisbie…The best teacher I ever had. I was 13 years old and that sound changed everything for me… The Band was the sound echoing in my head that somehow had escaped and could now be seen…part Hank Williams, part Irish immigrant…hiding glimpses of Thelonious Monk beneath Woody Guthrie. It was ancient and new all at the same time. They surrounded a genius and allowed him the grace to smile. They made it all seem within reach…finally I was able to see the road in the distance and maybe…just maybe, there was room on it for me. To search and find an America that I belonged in. One that questioned even the sanctity and sanity of rock n roll…my newest religion. Each voice unique and integral to the whole…the sum of it’s parts, eclipsing, any individual. Yet one voice always seemed to invite you in…a little closer to the fire. Levon Helm. Grizzled and stained with wisdom and gleaming with life, He sang…and the storm calmed. The sun cracked the horizon and the night spilt it’s mysteries. Sharecropper prophets, drunks, prostitutes, junkies and cops, carpetbaggers, street corner preachers and carnival freaks. Folk singers and guitar slingers alone and together in the American wilderness. If there’s a soundtrack to that…then, The Band is playing it….and Levon is Singin’. – Jason Heath

Billy Eli “Up on Cripple Creek”:
Levon was much more than a songwriting influence. I got really turned onto the music of The Band when I was in my mid- 20s. It was a physical comfort through two divorces and thousands of miles. – Billy Eli (Austin, TX)

Damngivers “It Makes No Difference”:
We all felt the loss of a musical soul and one heluva soulful musician when we heard of Levon’s passing. We figure heaven has picked up a little more funk in the house band though. We had studio time set up on Thursday last week to do some pre-production on some new tracks, but as the news went around that Levon was close to his final curtain call, we gathered to pay our respects the best way we know how.

Levon, as Mike Malone reminded me, was an author, actor, multi-instrumentalist and bon vivant savoring life and his personal relationships every day. He lived a life well worth living and he serves as one of the few “heroes” I have who transcend music and morality. The first compliment I got as a singer with the Damngivers was that I had a “Levon Helm kinda vibe.” True or not, I take the compliment as one of the highest ever given me.
Gerry Gomez (Damngivers)

The Far West feat. Jenn Gibbons & Ben Reddell “The Weight”:
Live at The Grand Ole Echo, LA, CA 4/22/12 (Shot by Steve Holmes)
Levon had one of the most unique, soulful and amazing voices in the history of recorded music. Levon and The Band were and will continue to be an immeasurable influence on The Far West and one of THE reasons any of us strive to make music at all today. It is safe to say; without Levon Helm’s influence, there would be no The Far West. We miss him already. – Lee Briante (The Far West)

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