The Weight Band Featuring Members of The Band and The Levon Helm Band
The Band was one of the most important roots rock groups of the 1960s. It included Levon Helm, Rick Danko, Garth Hudson, Richard Manuel and Robbie Robertson. The group, which began in Canada and then migrated to the U.S., was the subject of a Martin Scorsese documentary, The Last Waltz. The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994 and in 2004, Rolling Stone ranked then 50 on the list of 100 greatest artists. Their song “The Weight” was ranked 41st on the magazine’s list of the 500 greatest songs. They have a proud history.
Levon Helm died in 2012 after a lengthy battle with throat cancer that kept him from performing for many years. In 2013, in the Woodstock barn Levon Helm loved, Jim Weider and Randy Ciarlante, both former member of The Band, performed “Songs of the Band” with founder Garth Hudson, Jimmy Vivino and Byron Isaacs.
The experience inspired Weider, Ciarlante and Isaacs to carry on The Band’s legacy and they began performing fan favorites. They invited Brian Mitchell and later added Albert Rogers, Michael Bram and Matt Zeiner to join them. After several years of touring, they released an album of original material, World Gone Mad, that captures The Band’s musical tradition but is put together for today’s vibrant Americana base. The album, released in February, 2018, is an Americana/Roots Rock tribute to the music and the Woodstock sound.
Jim Weider, who plays guitar, mandolin and vocals, is a former member of The Band, and from 1985-2000, replaced Robbie Robertson as lead guitarist and song writer. He toured with Levon Helm, Garth Hudson and Rich Danko for 5 years and is also a member of Levon Helm’s Midnight Ramble Band and his own group, ProJECT PERCoLAToR.
Michael Bram, on drums and vocals, most recently toured with Jason Mraz. His connection to The Band comes by way of the extended community who played at Levon Helm’s studio in Woodstock, where he was the drummer for many years in the Chris O’Leary Band, an offshoot of Levon’s band The Barnburners.
Brian Mitchell, on keyboard and vocals, is a member of the Midnight Ramble Band and has recorded with Bob Dylan, Al Green and B.B. King.
Matt Zeiner, on keyboard and vocals, began his career with Hartford’s Street temperature Band and then hit the road with Matt “Guitar” Murphy of Blues Brothers fame. He toured extensively with Dickie Betts, a founding member of the Allman Brothers Band and over the years, he has performed with, produced, or written for Jeff Pevar, Melvin Sparks, Zach Deputy, Ryan Monbleau and others.
Albert Rogers plays bass and shares vocal duties as a member of The Weight Band. He’s shared the stage with Levon Helm and Garth Hudson in the Jim Weider Band and has performed with Sid McGinnis, Hubert Sumlin, Jimmy Vivino and Albert Lee.
Replicating the music of the Band would be a tall order, but interpreting it is an art. The songs The Band created have pleased audiences for decades, and The Weight Band has found a way to honor the legacy while creating its own sound and by original works that complement that legacy.