A small crowd gathered at the home of Levon Helm on Saturday night for the Midnight Ramble, an event that should be on any music fan’s bucket list. Typically an opening band is invited to share in the festivities with Levon and his band — past guests have included Allen Toussaint and Phil Lesh. This time around, My Morning Jacket made the journey up to the barn, which is nestled away in Woodstock, N.Y. The band was well rehearsed for their career-spanning run of shows at New York City’s Terminal 5, where they have been playing each one of their albums consecutively over five nights. Jim James led the band through a 10-song set of live show staples, as well as songs like “From Nashville to Kentucky,” which they dusted off in preparation for the NYC gigs.
“Gideon,” from the band’s 2005 breakthrough album, Z, was as peaceful as a drive through the country until it spiraled out of control, with Patrick Hallahan’s pounding of the drums opening into an assault from the guitar. On “Wonderful (The Way I Feel),” a new song — it’s expected to be on their next album — James perfectly captured the feeling in the room, singing with the utmost sincerity, “I’m going where there ain’t no need/To escape from what is/All the spirits at ease.” Carl Broemel’s pedal steel proved equally soulful. My Morning Jacket wrapped up their set with “One Big Holiday,” which would have been a fine ending to the night — if the Levon Helm Band wasn’t about to come on stage with special guest Donald Fagen. (They played until after midnight — read more on that here.)