Original paintings by Tina Thieme Brown.    
Photograph by Susan A. Roth. 

A Tribute to Levon

The tragic passing of Levon Helm on April 19 leaves a hole that will never be filled. For me, and so many of my generation, the music that he and his friends in The Band created was life-changing. From the moment I heard the sorrowful opening bars of Tears of Rage, all the way through to Levon’s powerful, pure singing in The Weight, I would never be the same.  

That was many, many years ago, of course.  But it is as real as yesterday.   

So many people think of Levon as the brilliant drummer and singer in The Band. But Levon made music, wonderful music, through all the years since. His courageous battle through -- and recovery from -- throat cancer  was not only inspirational, but astonishing really. Always still one of our greatest drummers, he came back to once again be one of our greatest singers too. In recent years, Levon, with many talented friends, created a new career for himself -- first through his Midnight Rambles at his Woodstock home, and ultimately again as a recording artist and star performer, a winner of important music awards, an Americana music icon.  Those concerts, for 100 people at “the Barn” or for thousands at the Ryman or the Beacon or Wolf Trap, were among the very best I ever saw or heard. 

Those of us who loved his music and what Levon represented and stood for as a man -- an American for the world to know and enjoy -- reach out from our hearts to his loving family and friends, those who were closest to him, to let them all know how much he meant to us. Those of us who knew him through his music felt a closeness to him that we will treasure until the day that we, too, pass on.

And those of you who are here, at this site, no doubt share those feelings with me. I think you will enjoy listening to my tribute to Levon in my song “Levon,” which I wrote a few years ago after seeing him at a Midnight Ramble (with special guest Emmy Lou Harris), as he successfully battled back from cancer and enjoyed several more wonderful years of life with his friends, and his loved ones, and his music. I recorded the song at the Levon Helm Studios with my band, Rhododendron Road, with Levon’s presence and spirit all around me.  ~ Jim Choukas-Bradley

(To go to the song "Levon," you may click here. )

Sugarloaf Mountain Records is proud to introduce
Rhododendron Road
and "Rising Tide," their new CD!

Rhododendron Road is a unique blend of musicians of different ages, experiences, and musical backgrounds, who all share a love for the new Rhododendron Road sound that they have created together. This group of musicians first came together as a studio band to record a few of singer-songwriter Jim Choukas-Bradley’s original compositions as demos to be placed with other singers. The musicians were put together by guitar maestro Jesse Daumit, one of the Washington-Baltimore region’s leading guitar stylists and teachers. Soon Jim and Jesse and the other musicians – bassist Jeff Reed, drummer Mike Kuhl, vocalist Amanda Joy Olsavsky, and guitar prodigy Jesse Choukas-Bradley – were having so much fun, and were so pleased with the sound, that they decided to expand their recording sessions to create a full CD, and to start playing out.

People hear many influences in the songs and the music. Bob Dylan, The Band, Neil Young. Tom Petty, Jerry Garcia, and Warren Zevon are names often mentioned.

The songs are for the most part “story songs.” They have something to say. The title tune of the first CD, Rising Tide, is about Hurricane Katrina and the abandonment of the people of New Orleans, for example, and it tells the story as it happened, with a power that builds like the flood itself.

Click here to connect to YouTube and Rhododendron Road's "Still (The Soldier's Song)."

Click here to purchase Rising Tide through Amazon.

Sugarloaf Mountain Records, Inc. wishes to thank Susan A. Roth for the use of her photographs,
and Tina Thieme Brown for the use of her paintings on this website.

Sugarloaf Mountain Records, Inc.
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