Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

The Band Evokes Powerful Memories

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

The Band Evokes Powerful Memories

Article excerpt

IF IT took a certain amount of chutzpah for a group of musicians to name themselves The Band (as opposed to just being a band) in the first place, the mind boggles at the thought of what it would take to reform and carry on as The Band without two key original members. But, there they were, 11 years after making such a decision, proving in concert Thursday night at Union Station that this particular assembly of players deserved the right to use the name.

For those who don't know, the original Band was a group that had come together as backing musicians, first for Ronnie Hawkins, and then for Bob Dylan. But once they decided to go out on their own, they discovered a brilliant songwriter lurking in their midst in the person of their guitarist, Robbie Robertson. Robertson left the group in 1976, and the Band called it quits until 1983, when the other four original members got back together with a replacement on guitar. A couple of years later, piano player and vocal mainstay Richard Manuel passed away, and The Band was down to three original members.

The key, however, was in just who those three people were. Drummer/mandolinist/harmonica player/vocalist Levon Helm, bassist/vocalist Rick Danko, and organist/saxophonist Garth Hudson are among the most talented musicians to ever play rock 'n' roll. Sure, their former cohorts were awfully good, but the real musical fireworks came from these three. New pianist Rick Bell nicely filled in Manuel's playing shows, while second drummer Randy Ciarlante took his vocal parts with less heart than his model, but with enough skill to get by. And guitarist John Weider, frankly, could play rings around Robertson.

All of this was apparent on The Band's first album in 17 years, last year's "Jericho," which was frequently brilliant and always darn good. …

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