Legendary Lineage Lives On at New Legacy
A Feature Article by Rich and Laura Lynch

Amy Helm created a stir at the New Legacy Concert Series at the Ringwood Library in New Jersey on Sunday, April 14, 2013.

The Amy Helm Band Begins a New Legacy in Ringwood

Amy Helm was born into a musical heritage. Her mother Libby Titus Fagen is a singer and her father Levon Helm was the legendary drummer in The Band. Amy's lineage is an advantage but she is a talented multi-instrumentalist, producer, songwriter and vocalist in her own right. We imagine that some come to her shows curious to see Levon's daughter. Yet, they are likely to leave fans of Amy whose music ranges from soothing to stirring with some family history mixed in.

For many years, Amy performed with her father. Together they conceived and launched the popular Midnight Ramble concerts held at the Helm's barn studio in Woodstock, New York. In addition Amy co-produced Levon's CD Dirt Farmer (2007) that won a Grammy for Best Traditional Folk Album. Helm is currently working on her first solo album.

Amy is also a founding member of Ollabella - a roots band that has released four records since 2001. Ollabella's core members come from different places both geography and sonically, thus their music is a magical blend of blues, bluegrass, folk, gospel, rock and soul. Ollabella has performed at major festivals including MerleFest and South By Southwest.

On Sunday, Helm was fronting a four piece band. Byron Isaacs handled guitar and bass. Justin Guip was playing a sit on drum box with cymbals and Dan Littleton was the apt lead guitarist. During some of the songs Amy played mandolin. Although it was an acoustic set-up the band performed an energizing, full sounding set with the use of effects to give some tracks an electric element.

"Hey everybody," greeted Amy, as she led the band through a hot "Heat Lightning" followed by a robust and rootsy "Roll The Stone" and then a bold and bluesy "Skies Falling". Helm has an intriguing voice that runs the gamut from graceful to gritty. Amy's singing added a lot of passion and power to the diverse range of songs that they performed.

"Such a loud drunk, crazy crowd," joked Helm as they moved into "The Battle Is Over" which blended funky and soulful grooves. "Meet Me In The Morning" combined beguiling bass lines and heavy electric like guitar riffs that left us with the feeling that we should be in a dark, smoky place rather then in a quiet venue where the sun was shining down on the band. "Wild Girl" was filled with imagery of death and nature with instrumentation that flowed from delicate to daring.

The Amy Helm Band Begins a New Legacy in Ringwood

Byron mentioned that sometimes something great happens in life. He illustrated this concept by pointing out his wife and two children in the audience. He went on to say that the fourth amazing event for him was when Levon Helm had sung a song that he had written. "It's his song now," declared Isaacs as they performed "Calvary" which was on Helm's Dirt Farmer album. Byron sang about life and its lows with all the instruments punctuating the poignant points of the piece.

The Amy Helm Band's take on Muddy Waters "Live The Life" was slinky and stellar. Their up-tempo version of "I Ain't Got No Home" rocked and paid tribute to both Woody Guthrie who wrote the song and Dylan and The Band who made the cover one of their classics. Still reflecting on her legacy, Amy shared that her father taught her the next story song "Little Birds".

"This is a dancing song," declared the group as they went into the swinging "Slippin' and Slidin' " that had fans on their feet clapping and swaying along. Amy shared that they had opened for Los Lobos and said that they are even cooler than you think they are. The Amy Helm Band put their own colorful spin on the Los Lobos number "When The Circus Comes".

During their encore Amy invited her friend Elizabeth Mitchell to sing on the delightful "It Makes No Difference" and they closed with a rousing "Ain't That Good News". Amy Helm and her band played a stirring set among the stacks at the library. Amy lived up to her legendary name and also honored her father through the music.

Amy Helm adds to the ever growing list of fine musicians to grace the stage at the New Legacy Concert Series. Since 2002, the Ringwood Library has hosted concerts on Sunday afternoons. Many world class artists with a focus on blues, folk and roots have performed at this intimate venue. has seen many great New Legacy shows including Buckwheat Zydeco, Dar Williams, John Gorka and Marcia Ball and we are looking forward to Nellie Mckay on 5/19/2013.

The Amy Helm Band:
Amy Helm - lead vocals & mandolin
Byron Isaacs - bass & guitar
Justin Guip - drums
Dan Littleton - guitar

The Amy Helm Band Begins a New Legacy in Ringwood

Related Links: For more information on AMY HELM and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - The Amy Helm BandQ | New Legacy Concert Series

(Originally Published on April 15, 2013)




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