So….back in the early 60's when Robbie Robertson first joined The Band (then The Hawkes), he had to travel from Toronto to southern Arkansas to do so. Upon arrival he was immediately enthralled with all things southern, the culture, the food and in particular the music, and rightfully so. That neck of the woods is RICH in musical heritage and at the time (and to this day) red-hot bands were/are a dime a dozen.
I have to admit to my OWN fascination for all things southern. I've often thought that I MIGHT have been a southerner in another lifetime….perhaps one of those Cajuns that got tossed out of New France and landed in New Orleans or some parish in the bayou.
Of course, eventually, Robbie, drummer Levon Helm, bassist Rick Danko and keyboard men Richard Manuel and Garth Hudson would go on to form THE BAND. Some years ago Levon wrote an autobiography entitled “This Wheel's On Fire" in which he talks, among other things about his early years, growing up on a cotton plantation (his father was a sharecropper) working as “the water boy" …the cotton pickers' only source of hydration, working long hours in the scorching heat…a very TOUGH way to make a living.
The GOOD news is that on the weekends, kick-ass bands would roll into town and perform at tent shows, the highlight of which was “The Midnight Ramble"…Sometime around 11:00 p.m. the proceedings would grind to a halt, they'd thank everybody for coming and then they'd announce it was time for the “Midnight Ramble, whence…to quote Levon “the jokes'd get a little funnier, the dance moves would get a little spicier and the prettiest girl in town would get up on the dance floor and shake it on down"….all well worth the additional cost of one dollar!!
And so, having recently read Levon's bio (probably for at least the 6th time!) and having recently seen Robbie's documentary on The Band entitled “Once Were Brothers" at the Windsor international Film Festival, I was inspired to write this song. Entitled “When the Band Rolls Into Town", it pays tribute to Levon and that magical world of music which so inspired HIM. Again, to quote him: “The greatest sight I know is a ‘57 Cadillac roarin' down the road with a dog house bass strapped to the top"….cuz that signalled the band's arrival into town, and he knew THAT was PRECISELY what he wanted to do with his life!
Folks, in tribute to arguably the best drummer-vocalist in the business, I give you “When The Band Rolls Into Town”. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the oh-so-talented Chis McGuire for his outstanding keyboard work on this one. He TRULY made this one “jump, jive and wail”.