Levon Helm

Dirt Farmer

Dirt Farmer/Vanguard

helmFour albums from 1977 to 1982 — that was the extent of Helm’s solo studio output until now. Twenty-five years is a long time, but in the former Band drummer’s case, it was worth the wait.

Of course, during the last 10 years, he couldn’t have made a new record if he’d wanted to. In 1998, Helm underwent surgery for throat cancer and was told he’d never sing and possibly never talk again. Fortunately, he stuck with it and relearned the craft.

Comprising songs his parents and their friends sang and played as they were growing up in Arkansas, “Dirt Farmer” is an all-acoustic album of covers, some traditional and some by writers such as J.B. Lenoir, Paul Kennerley, Steve Earle and the husband-wife team of Buddy and Julie Miller.

The project was shepherded by multi-instrumentalist Larry Campbell (acoustic guitar, resonator guitar, fiddles and mandolin) and daughter Amy Helm (harmony vocals, mandolin and mandola) and recorded at Levon’s barn studio in Woodstock. Amy takes over the kit on a few tunes, and five numbers are sans drums; but when he plays, the 67-year-old plays up a storm.

Especially noteworthy are the Stanley Brothers standard “False Hearted Lover Blues,” Earle’s “The Mountain” (on which one can almost hear Helm’s dearly departed Band-mate Rick Danko harmonizing) and Lenoir’s “Feelin’ Good.”gnm_end_bug

1. False Hearted Lover Blues
2. Poor Old Dirt Farmer
3. The Mountain
4. Little Birds
5. The Girl I Left Behind
6. Calvary
7. Anna Lee
8. Got Me A Woman
9. A Train Robbery
10. Single Girl, Married Girl
11. The Blind Child
12. Feelin’ Good
13. Wide River To Cross

Total time: 51:36

External links
artist’s link
iTunes Store

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