Tag Archives: The Band

Garth Hudson

Garth Hudson

Garth Hudson
Hudson and Levon Helm in 1983

The Band

Woodstock Music and Art Fair

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

born August 2, 1937


The beginning

Garth Hudson was born in Windsor, Ontario to Fred James Hudson and Olive Louella Pentland. Both played instruments. His mother played piano, accordion and sang; his father played drums, saxophone, clarinet and flute. When he was three, Garth's family moved to London, Ontario and he grew up there. 

He attended the Broughdale Public School, Medway High School, and the University of Western Ontario. Garth studied piano, theory, harmony, and counterpoint.

Bands before The Band

Hudson played with Paul London & The Capers from 1958 through 1961 before joining Ronnie Hawkins & The Hawks. When the Hawks left Hawkins, Levon HelmRobbie RobertsonRichard ManuelRick Danko, and Hudson formed Levon and the Hawks.

Bob Dylan

In 1966, Bob Dylan recruited them to accompany him on his newly-electric 1966 tour. Dylan lived in Woodstock, NY and the band rented nearby 56 Parnassus Lane in West Saugerties, NY. The house was mostly pink and Dylan regularly visited the band in their basement studio area. 

The six of them recorded dozens of songs that accumulated and became the legendary Basement Tapes.

The Band

In 1968, the band, now The Band, released an album appropriately named after their place and just as appropriately with a cover painted by Dylan. Music From Big Pink was a success and led to nearly a decade of successes. 

The Band released eight albums and performing for full houses around the world. Garth Hudson's "Genetic Method" and introductions to "Chest Fever" were a concert highlight.

The original members' last concert was in 1976. Martin Scorsese's film, The Last Waltz, documented the show. 

Garth Hudson

He remains an active musician.  The Band occasionally reunited without Robertson and with others. 

And according to Hudson's site, "He has recorded and performed with many artists, including Neko Case, Los Lobos, The Gipsy Kings, Leonard Cohen, Thumbs Carllile, Van Morrison, Muddy Waters, Marianne Faithfull, Roger Waters, Norah Jones, Jennifer Warnes, Cyndi Lauper, Tango Man, the Northern Pikes, Kevin Hearn & Thin Buckle, BarenakedLadies, John Sebastian, Jessie Winchester, Geoff Muldaur, Tom Rush, Livingston Taylor, Bill Conte, the Hudson Valley Philharmonic Orchestra, Moto "The Lion" Sano, Jimmy Sturr, Wild Bill Davis, Clifford Scott, Louisiana Red, Jo-El Sonnier, Emmylou Harris, Champion Jack Dupree, John Anderson, Tommy Spurlock, Sneaky Pete Kleinow and the Flying Burrito Brothers, David Bromberg, the Indigo Girls, Richard Belzer, Sinead O'Connor, Don McLean, Keith Richards, Hirth Martinez, Levon Helm and the Barn Burners, Eric Andersen, Jonas Fjeld, Halvard Bjørgum, The Call, Todd Rundgren, Karla Bonoff, Linda Thompson, The Secret Machines, Jonah Smith, The Sadies, the Big Blue Big Band, Jimmy Vivino of the Conan O'Brien Show, Paul Shaffer of the David Letterman Show, Evan Dando & The Lemonheads, Donovan, Wilco, Doug Paisley, The Dixie Hummingbirds, and The Bauls of Bengal. "

Robbie Robertson

Robbie Robertson

Happy birthday
July 5, 1943
The Band
Woodstock alum
Robbie Robertson
Jaime Royal “Robbie” Robertson was born on July 5th in Toronto, Canada. His father from Toronto; his mother, of Mohawk descent, born and raised on the Six Nations Reservation. At an early age, Robbie begins learning guitar from relatives during his summer visits to the reservation. (photo & text from Robertson site)
A lucky few are born with a silver spoon in their mouth. Apparently, James Royal "Robbie"Robertson was born with a guitar in his hands.

Early on before Dylan…

Like many (most?) lifelong rock musicians, Robbie Robertson began playing in local bands in his mid-teens. By the time he was 18 he, along with Levon HelmRick DankoRichard Manuel, and Garth Hudson) was a part of Ronnie Hawkins's band, Hawkins and the Hawks.

In 1961, Robbie Robertson and his mates became the Canadian Squires and released "Uh Uh Uh" with "Leave Me Alone" on the B-side. Robertson is credited for writing both.

Enter Dylan

1965 was a turning point in rock and roll. Around for a decade already, the nonetheless "new" genre of Rock split with some headed in a new direction. Why? Bob Dylan had decided to stop working on Maggie's farm and go electric. For his band, Dylan recruited Robertson who was quickly followed by the rest of the Squires. They toured with Dylan and then near Dylan's in Woodstock, NY. 

Their pink house was at 56 Parnassus Lane in nearby West Saugerties, NY. They set up a recording studio in its basement and played innumerable hours working on their music together. Dylan frequently stopped by and his famous Basement Tapes came out of this time.

Dylan's band became The Band and Music From Big Pink became their first album. Al Kooper, in his Rolling Stone magazine review of the album, wrote in Rolling Stone magazine in August 1968, "I have chosen my album for 1968. Music from Big Pink is an event and should be treated as one."

The Band

Rolling Stone magazine carried a lot of weight and the fact that the well-respected Al Kooper endorsed it so enthusiastically was a double-barrel boost.

Robbie Robertson, the person who the record credits with doing most of the Band's composing, became a star along with the rest of the Band.

Woodstock Music and Art Fair

If the reclusive Bob Dylan wasn't available for Woodstock Ventures get together in Bethel, NY, then getting the newly anointed Band there was nearly as good.

There style differed from most other bands surrounding them that weekend in general and that Sunday in particular. It is easy to forget how oddly "unrock" their version of rock was.

In concert the Band and Robertson were as tight and proficient as any ever was. Those basement hours paid many dividends.


In 1969, they released their second album, The Band. In 1970, Time magazine put Robertson and the Band on its front cover with the caption "The New Sound of Country Rock."  1970 saw their third album, Stage Fright. Cahoots in 1971. Rock of Ages in 1972. 

They toured and they partied. They partied and they toured.

Last Waltz

By 1976, only eight years after the release of Big Pink, Robertson and the other members took a break. They billed it as the Last Waltz and threw a party filmed and recorded by filmmaker friend Martin Scorsese. A who's who of friends and musicians participated, including Ronnie Hawkins and Bob Dylan.

Robbie Robertson

It has been  more than 40 years since the Band's last waltz. The Band, always without Robertson, got together occasionally to record and tour. 

Robertson continued to record as well as acting (eg. the 1980 Carny).  

He has often contributed to film scores (Raging Bull, King of Comedy, Color of Money, Casino, Gangs of New York, Ladder 49, Shelter Island, The Wolf of Wall Street) In November2016, Robertson released his large memoir, Testimony. (NYT review)

Levon Helm

Levon Helm

Happy birthday
May 26, 1940 — April 19, 2012

Levon Helm

             My memory is vague concerning how I first heard about the Band. I certainly did not know that they were Bob Dylan's back up band. I just as certainly did not know they were mostly Canadian musicians, except one guy.
                  I presume  I heard about Music From Big Pink from Rolling Stone magazine.  If I did,  then I did read about the Dylan and Canadian connections. I definitely would have noticed that Al Kooper wrote the review and that he said it was his album of the year.

                  I sat on the Staten Island Ferry after working as a Wall Street runner at Dempsey - Tegeler where I  had learned the quickest route from 110 Wall Street to the Chase Bank in the rain. I sat on the ferry cuddling Music from Big Pink.  If Kooper, the mainspring of the Blues Project [a source of several epiphanies) and Blood, Sweat and Tears  (Child Is Father To the Man] said The Band were It, then Amen.
                  My little mono record player was literally that and could not even dream in Hi-Fi, but it gave its all. And I listened.

                  What was this? Not rock. Not blues. At least not any rock or blues that I'd ever heard. Deliberate, its songs required patience that this 18 year old lacked.

Levon Helm

                  With time and their second album I fell under the spell of The Band. Little did I realize that Levon Helm, Garth Hudson, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel, and Robbie Robertson repeatedly proved the point of their music being greater than the sum of their parts. Not even the Beatles were as instrumentally multi-talented as The Band.

                  When the original Band ended it's run in 1977, a run longer than the Beatles had, fans hoped that it was simply a postponement, not a cancellation.

                  It was and it wasn't. Levon Helm certainly kept on playing music. Thank you! The others did, too, but Levon in particular remained the source of that sound I had, at first, not understood. 
                  Now I get it. Now I want it. And Levon, despite many challenges, kept pace, and kept the faith. With a partially re-formed Band and without. On his own. With a voice and sometimes without one. His credits cover a lifetime of sincere and truthful music. (All Music credits)

                  And what Al Kooper said in 1968 about Big Pink, was true about Levon Helm until the day he died:  [His] singing is...honest and unaffected....There are people who will work their lives away in vain and not touch it.
Excerpt from PBS Special “Levon Helm Ramble At The Ryman” premiered nationwide on August 2009. Featuring John Hiatt, Sheryl Crow, Buddy Miller, Sam Bush. Levon Helm brough his Midnight Ramble to the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, TN.