Blues/folk artist Amy Helm to play headlining set at Briggs Farm Blues Fest

By Daniel Burnett | For Times Leader
Audiotree Amy Helm - Rescue Me - Audiotree Live
Amy Helm, left, and Jackie Greene perform during Love Rocks NYC! at the Beacon Theatre in 2017 in New York. - Photo by Amy Harris | Invision/AP
Amy Helm, center, performs with her father, Levon Helm, right, in 2009 in New York. Known for his iconic drumming and vocal work with The Band, Levon Helm died after a battle with cancer in 2012. - Richard Drew | AP file photo
Blues/folk singer-songwriter Amy Helm and The Handsome Strangers will perform on July 7 at Briggs Farm Blues Festival in Nescopeck. For more information, visit briggsfarm.com. - Courtesy of James Rice Photography

Amy Helm, Briggs Farm Blues Festival’s headliner on Saturday, July 7, is an Americana blues/folk singer-songwriter who’s been schooled by the masters.

She is the daughter of the late Levon Helm, of The Band, and worked with him on various music projects for a decade before he died in 2012, including his Grammy Award-winning “Dirt Farmer” comeback album in 2007.

Her mother is singer-songwriter Libby Titus, and her stepfather is Donald Fagen, co-founder of Steely Dan. She knows New Orleans piano player Dr. John and has rubbed elbows with professionals from many genres.

Helm also has been a road-warrior musician most of her adult life. She was a member of the New York-based, alt-country band Ollabelle for a decade. She helped her father run his Midnight Ramble music venue in Woodstock and has kept company with Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees since she was a child. She went solo a few years ago and released her critically acclaimed, “Didn’t It Rain” album in 2015.

While Levon is remembered for his distinctive vocals in “The Last Waltz” music documentary, his 47-year-old daughter is taking her first waltz as a solo player backed by a seasoned team of rotating musicians called The Handsome Strangers.

“I’ve got an incredible cast of musicians I’ve been playing with over the past year, and I feel honored and excited to take any stage and do any gig with them,” said Helm from her home in Woodstock, N.Y. “So it should be a good strong band.”

She and the band have a new album coming out in September. While her first solo album was recorded and reworked over a period of years at Levon’s Barn studio/performance venue in Woodstock, the new work was recorded in four days in Los Angeles. Striving for a live concert sound, Helm said no vocals were redubbed, which she said gives the album a more honest sound.

Life for a musician who must tour regularly — especially one with a famous father who was part of musical history — is not easy. Sure, Helm said, it opens doors, but there are also challenges that a musician with two young boys routinely faces.

Here are Helm’s reflections on her life now.

Motherhood and touring: “When I started to go out on the road to begin building a solo career, they (her boys) were really tiny, so I had not been able to tour in a more standard way in terms of time. Usually, we would try to book a three-and-a-half-week tour, but I haven’t been able to do that,” she said. “I try not to leave home for more than 10 days or two weeks. … Of course, I take them out (on the road) with me in the summer when I can, and they love that.”

Woodstock landmark: She and her stepmother still operate The Barn, part of Levon’s legendary Midnight Ramble. “It is a straight-up music venue. We just had John Prine play there. … It means so much to me to have the walls fill up with great music, and it’s so important to support live music of every genre and to stay open and to keep musicians working. I try to do that in my own life as much as I can by supporting musicians and getting inspired by people who are playing.”

What dad would say: “I am sure he would be happy, and I’m sure he would tell me to ask for more money. He was a great advocate for musicians. If it was me or anybody else who would tell him what they are doing or where they were playing, he would always say ‘go and make them pay you more.’ He could have run the union for musicians. He was a great supporter of all working musicians.”

Helm and The Handsome Strangers take the Main Stage at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, July 7.

Amy Helm, left, and Jackie Greene perform during Love Rocks NYC! at the Beacon Theatre in 2017 in New York.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/web1_AP_17069111998515.jpgAmy Helm, left, and Jackie Greene perform during Love Rocks NYC! at the Beacon Theatre in 2017 in New York. Photo by Amy Harris | Invision/AP

Amy Helm, center, performs with her father, Levon Helm, right, in 2009 in New York. Known for his iconic drumming and vocal work with The Band, Levon Helm died after a battle with cancer in 2012.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/web1_AmyandLevon.jpgAmy Helm, center, performs with her father, Levon Helm, right, in 2009 in New York. Known for his iconic drumming and vocal work with The Band, Levon Helm died after a battle with cancer in 2012. Richard Drew | AP file photo

Blues/folk singer-songwriter Amy Helm and The Handsome Strangers will perform on July 7 at Briggs Farm Blues Festival in Nescopeck. For more information, visit briggsfarm.com.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/web1_Amy-Helm.jpgBlues/folk singer-songwriter Amy Helm and The Handsome Strangers will perform on July 7 at Briggs Farm Blues Festival in Nescopeck. For more information, visit briggsfarm.com. Courtesy of James Rice Photography
Daughter of Band drummer talks music, motherhood

By Daniel Burnett | For Times Leader

BRIGGS FARM BLUES FESTIVAL

Destination: 88 Old Berwick Highway, Nescopeck. Site is four miles off Interstate 80’s Exit 256. Take Route 93 north and follow signs to festival.

Tickets: One-day tickets for Friday or Saturday, $30 advance, $35 day of show; and $25 advance and $30 day of show for Sunday’s gospel performances. Multi-day packages available on website, www.briggsfarm.com; click ‘tickets.’

To bring: Coolers and food allowed (food vendors also on site). Lawn chairs and blankets recommended.

Prohibited: Glass bottles, pets, fireworks, sky lanterns.

Parking: Free.

Camping: Available, see www.briggsfarm.com; click ‘tickets’ for package prices. Showers available to campers.

Thursday, July 5: The Mighty Susquehannas & Friends perform Eric Clapton’s ‘Slowhand in the Woods’ blues at Stage in the Woods. Show available only to four-day campers and three- and four-day general admission ticket holders.

Friday, July 6: Gates open at noon, and music starts at 1:40 p.m. Headliner Samantha Fish takes the stage at 9:45 p.m. Other featured acts are Gabe Stillman Band, Launch PAD, Miz, Dustin Arbuckle & The Damnations, Swampcandy, Shawn Holt & The Teardrops, Vanessa Collier and The National Reserve.

Saturday, July 7: Music starts at noon, and headliner Amy Helm takes the main stage at 9:30 p.m. Other featured acts are Mike Farris & The Roseland Rhythm Review, Selwyn Birchwood, Jj Thames & The Violet Revolt, The National Reserve, Amanda Fish Band, Ursula Ricks, Teddy Young & The Aces, The Mighty Susquehannas, and 3rd Street Blues Band.

Sunday, July 8: Gospel blues show starts at 11 a.m. with Ed Randazzo & Friends; Mike Farris at 1 p.m. Gates close at 4 p.m.

Other activities: Free hayrides, 5 to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; guitar giveaways to raise funds for women’s shelter

VideoID: qQ5pY897bv0
VideoType: YOUTUBE
URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQ5pY897bv0
Video Embed String: <iframe width=”560” height=”315” src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/qQ5pY897bv0” frameborder=”0” allow=”autoplay; encrypted-media” allowfullscreen></iframe>
Video Caption: Amy Helm – Rescue Me – Audiotree Live
Video Credit: Audiotree
Video Position:

(use the “for files…” link above to associate attached files with this source)