The town of Woodstock, New York, honored iconic drummer Levon Helm by officially declaring Saturday May 20th, 2006, Levon Helm Day. The town presented Helm — who banged the kit for Bob Dylan before forming the Band in the mid-Sixties — with a key to the village and with performances from local musicians, including Helm’s very own Levon Helm Band.
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Helm, who lives in Woodstock and has a studio there, moved to town in the Sixties, where he joined his fellow Dylan touring partners to woodshed in a rented pink house. Since most Woodstock residents referred to the holed up musicians as “the band,” the group stuck to the moniker and went on to release their aptly-titled — and now classic — 1968 debut, Music From Big Pink.
Today Helm, a survivor of the throat cancer that plagued him in 1996, continues to jam regularly at his Levon Helm Studios, in freeform performances dubbed the Midnight Ramble Sessions. Emmylou Harris, Elvis Costello and Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen are among the artists who have taken part.