After the great singer and drummer Levon Helm, of The Band, died in April 2012, a concert was organized to pay tribute to him, and help raise funds to continue the Midnight Ramble concert series he had begun presenting at his Woodstock, N.Y. studio in 2004. The show was held at the Izod Center in East Rutherford on Oct. 3, 2012, and the participants included Roger Waters, Joe Walsh, Mavis Staples, John Mayer, Gregg Allman, Warren Haynes, Bruce Hornsby, Lucinda Williams, My Morning Jacket, David Bromberg, Joan Osborne and John Prine.
One of the evening most emotional performances, though, was by Grace Potter, who turned in a flawless version of “I Shall Be Released,” backing herself on organ.
The Band recorded this Bob Dylan-written song on their first album, “Music From Big Pink” (1968), and used it for the star-studded finale of their 1976 farewell concert, “The Last Waltz.” There are two versions of it on the Bob Dylan and The Band boxed set, “The Basement Tapes Complete: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 11.”
While The Band was not from New Jersey, the state does play a role in the group’s history, as it was performing regularly at Tony Mart’s in Somers Point — while still known as Levon and the Hawks — when Dylan discovered them in 1965, and hired them to back him on tour.
New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday in 2014. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we marked the occasion by posting 350 songs — one a day, from September 2014 to September 2015 — that have something to do with the state, its musical history, or both. To see the entire list, click here.