Levon Helm once sang and played drums and mandolin for a certain quintet that was so formidable it was simply dubbed the Band. It created rock for the ages, and lo these many ages later, Helm is still creating improbable, incandescent music, last year winning a Grammy for Dirt Farmer, his first solo album in a quarter-century—improbable because he had seemingly forever lost his voice to throat cancer. His Arkansas yowl miraculously restored, Helm is on a roll, and rolls into town with his superb band just ahead of the release of a new album, Electric Dirt. Like its predecessor, this earthy collection taps country, blues, folk, gospel, and good old rock 'n' roll, mixing originals with apt, critical covers, including the Dead's "Tennessee Jed" (a song Helm was seemingly born to sing), Muddy Waters's "You Can't Lose What You Ain't Never Had," Carter Stanley's "White Dove," and the Staple Singers' "Move Along Train." The horns on two songs were arranged by Allen Toussaint, who also did the horns for the Band's "Life Is a Carnival" and live Rock of Ages album. Helm's current band includes several members of Ollabelle (daughter Amy Helm, bassist Byron Isaacs), plus multi-instrumentalist (and former Bob Dylan associate) Larry Campbell, Brian Mitchell on keyboards, and singer Teresa Williams (Campbell's wife).
Wed., June 10, 7:30 p.m., 2009