Monday, April 23, 2012

Levon Helm, 1940-2012

Levon Helm, drummer and singer for The Band, passed away last Thursday.  He had battled throat cancer for years, but I was surprised to read a statement from his family on Wednesday that he was fading, given the fact that he had been playing shows relatively recently. 

In an otherwise Canadian group, Helm was an Arkansas native and lent an authentic tone to The Band's Americana songs, such as "Up On Cripple Creek," "The Weight," "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," and "Ophelia."  He had long resented guitarist-songwriter Robbie Robertson, believing that Robertson received a disproportionate amount of royalties.  Helm also disliked the Scorcese-directed concert film The Last Waltz because he thought it glorified Robertson over the other members of the group.

After thirty years of acrimony, the two reconciled when Robertson visited Helm in the hospital.  "I am so grateful I got to see him one last time," said Robertson, "and will miss him and love him forever."  Garth Hudson, the other surviving member of The Band, expressed sadness as well.

In recent years, Helm had hosted a weekly concert series, "The Midnight Rambles," at his home, which led to the production of two acclaimed albums, Dirt Farmer and Electric Dirt.  The live album Ramble at the Ryman was also well received.

 "If it doesn't come from your heart, music just doesn't work." --Levon Helm.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Library & Archives officially opens

Happy National Library Week!  It is also induction week at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, which started it off with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new Library and Archives (two years in the making and open to the public since January).  The opening ceremony included a forum featuring a panel of music historians talking about things they had discovered in the collection.  The new four-story building is located on the Metro Campus of Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, about two miles from the Museum. 

The library's mission includes the following assertion:  "We believe the Library and Archives will help to take the Museum to a new level of visibility and recognition as a world-class cultural institution, connecting further with the scholarly community while at the same time serving the information needs of all music fans."  Sounds good.  From what I can tell from looking at the library's catalog, the library does not have a circulating collection.  Following criticism from the public that the library is only open 9-5 Monday through Friday, director Andy Leach said they are looking at opening an evening or a Saturday.

I remember seeing the job posting for a public services librarian at the Library and Archives awhile back and thinking that would be a fun job.  Most of the staff there have degrees related to music as well as library science.

I like the archives' inclusions of a Wilco collection, Led Zeppelin concert handbills, and Jimi Hendrix's original, handwritten lyrics to "Purple Haze" on "crumpled, yellow note paper."