I can’t even begin to get good words around how much this man’s voice and musicality meant to me, and how much his work colored my sense of American music. From West Helena, Arkansas to the world.
We’re now filming the last episode of the third season of Treme. In the original beat sheet for that episode, there is a story arc in which one of our characters performs with Helm and his band in Woodstock, at one of his legendary Midnight Rambles. Helm himself had conversations with one of our producers about the possibility. And having had the chance to attend one such Ramble in his barn there, I wanted it to happen badly. Those homemade concerts were pretty damn magical, and I relished the thought of using the drama to cast a little more light on Helm and what he meant to roots rock’n’roll.
A couple months ago, we got word that Helm had again stopped singing, and, too, we had exhausted a good chunk of our travel budget for the production. We published the script without the Levon Helm scene this week, but still hoped we’d get a chance to do it if we had the good fortune to get a fourth and concluding season for the drama. Then the news.
“Rag Mama Rag,” was the song we wanted. Helm on mandolin and vocals, Lucia Micarelli playing fiddle.