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Dirt Farmer
List Price: $16.98

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Product Description

Levon Helm's early solo albums, made in the 1970s after the Band initially broke up, were hit-and-miss affairs, but his first solo studio release in 25 years represents a rich return to his Southern roots. With co-production and musical support from daughter Amy (of Ollabelle) and multi-instrumentalist Larry Campbell (long a mainstay of Bob Dylan's band), Helm gives organic unity and rough-hewn vitality to a selection of Cajun fiddle waltzes, country blues, hardscrabble folk, and some more contemporary material (from the likes of Steve Earle and Buddy and Julie Miller). Following his recovery from throat cancer, Helm's voice has a slightly different timbre, but his phrasing is unmistakable as the same vocalist who sang "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" and "Rag Mama Rag." With Amy providing harmony and duet vocals and Levon's drumming evoking his signature work with the Band, Helm takes material from a variety of sources and makes it all his own. --Don McLeese

Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Levon Helm's Dirt Farmer will be released
October 30 by Vanguard Records, his first solo, studio album in 25 years. The organic feel of the sessions hark back to his work with The Band and comes on the heels of a wave of attention for his Midnight Rambles, late night concerts held at Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock, NY.

It's a major landmark on a remarkable journey for Levon Helm. "The last few years have proven to me that we truly live in an age of miracles," writes Levon in the poignant liner notes. After arduous treatments for throat cancer that took away his singing voice and a fire that consumed over eighty percent of his recording studio, Helm was amazed to find both restored.

On Dirt Farmer, Helm's pays tribute to his family, singing traditional songs that he learned growing up in rural Arkansas. He also covers songs by Steve Earle and J.B. Lenoir; full of Dobros, mandolins and acoustic guitars, the album resonates deeply, honoring Levon's roots.

Multi-instrumentalist Larry Campbell (Bob Dylan, Lyle Lovett, Solomon Burke) and Levon's daughter Amy, also a member of Ollabelle, produced and shepherded the project at "The Barn," Levon Helm Studios. Levon himself plays drums, mandolin, and acoustic guitar and provides all lead vocals.

Customer Reviews:

  • Worth Your While
    As a big fan of "The Band", I was anxious to pick up this new piece of work from Levon Helm after hearing many positive reviews. I was not disappointed. Although Levon's voice is not as strong as it once was, having battled throat cancer recently, it was stronger than I thought it would be.

    The tracks are mostly traditional music, just with Levon's take. And it works.

    It is not a great album from start to finish, but it is a very enjoyable offering from a true legend.

    I would recommend this to all fellow "Band" and/or Levon Helm fans. I hope Levon continues to produce these solid efforts, and I wish him the best of health....more info
  • It took me a few plays
    When this came out I listened to the short clips on Amazon and decided to pass. But I heard it at a friends, and it started to grow on me. After a couple of listens I just let his treatment of the songs sink in. Now I'm hooked. If you liked him with the Band or like gritty country/folk, give this a try. It's a gem....more info
  • Can I Give Ten Stars?
    I had the good fortune to see Levon Helm perform songs from "Dirt Farmer" on New Year's Eve (12/31/2007). We got tickets to attend a Midnight Ramble at his studios in Woodstock, NY. Levon is truly an American musical treasure. Among other musicians he is backed on this CD by his daughter Amy Helm whose vocals are stunning. Just listen to her harmonies on "Calvary". Multi-talented musician and vocalist Larry Campbell and his wife Teresa Williams also back up Levon and the result is the finest CD I have heard in many years. No, it's not The Band.....but it is Levon. He deserves the Grammy for which he's been nominated. ...more info
  • roots country
    love this way-down home sound. The zydico mixes with the
    raw country sawing violin and harmonies. Foot tappin, hip slappin
    hill music. Way YES on this one from Levon featuring contagious pickin & squeezin!...more info
  • Not disappointed
    I heard the title track and I loved Levon Helm's voice. The CD is great, very enjoyable. I am very satisfied with my purchase....more info
  • Beautifully played and recorded
    Levon Helm is a legend, no doubt about it.
    Released in 2007, Dirt Farmer brings an absolutely outstanding group of musicians together. From the first chords on False Hearted Lover Blues through to the last song, the beautiful Wide River To Cross this is an album of real American music. And it sounds so lively and vibrant!
    Levon is still playing those drums like he means it and his voice, even after his after his surgery for throat cancer in 1998, remains as moving as ever.
    Very well produced by Larry Campbell who played with Bob Dylan during the Love & Theft period and Levon's daughter Amy Helm, Dirt Farmer should please everyone who is interested in true American folk music. Me I just can't praise this album enough! ...more info
  • Dirty farmer
    Like his style of music. Has a different beat.His voice is good. I have played this dvd many times and my husband enjoys it. Great work. I heard Levon sing on the radio out in Fargo ND. also on Imus Gave my niece and her husband DVD too.S Kirstein...more info
  • Levon still has it.
    With "Dirt Farmer" Levon Helm shows he still has it. I listen to a lot of music every year and Dirt Farmer is one of the best of 2007. At times while I was listening to this cd I could swear I heard The band. With Levon Helm has been through it very good to see he put out a great album....more info
  • I think I missed something, but I wasn't impressed
    I wanted to like this CD and all the good hype made me look forward to it. BIG disappointment. The vocals lacked power and punch and the arrangements seemed contrived and lifeless. It lacks the earthiness, creative edge, and simplicity that marks really good Americana. I oculdn't connect with a musician I've listened to for over 30 years....more info
  • The Sum is Greater than the Parts
    This cd, taken as a whole, is one of the best that I have ever listened to. At first I was taken aback by Levon's raspy voice, but by the end of the cd that didn't matter to me at all. This cd takes you on a journey. It is a travel to other times and places in Levon's youth in Arkansas. I can't think of when a cd has so transported me away from the daily grind. If you were to take each song as a single it would not be as meaningful, but all together it is magical. Great instrumentals and backup harmony. This just works. Why not a five star rating? Only because reviewers dole them out too often. Thanks Levon for returning to your roots. ...more info
  • Down to Earth music at its best
    I like the music of The Band and there is some of that in there, but also much more, classic and traditional, while at home in the present....more info
  • Dirt Farmer
    Gritty and raw. This album is a treasure that isn't too often found in newly released music. The emotion he puts into the music and the fact that his daughter wanted him to record this before he couldn't anymore shines through. It's like you're being granted an opportunity to acquire one of their family heirlooms without being part of the family....more info
  • Levon kickin' it old school!
    I grew up in Appalachia. I knew what bluegrass music was before I knew the name for it. Levon Helm NAILS it on this album, including the twangy, old geezer voice that lends itself to this kind of music. The guitar intro on track one alone is worth the purchase of this record....utterly sublime....more info
  • Back to his Roots
    Levon Helm brings it home with this great new collection. Each song starts off as a seed and starts to grow and gets nurtured and before your very ears turns into a solid oak tree. In todays world where musicians depend on electronics,Levon brings back basic skills like playing real instruments. How refreshing to hear 3 part harmony over just a fiddle. Wow The placement of Levons snare drum in a waltz will set the standard for years to come. Real instruments, real songs and real people, that's bringing music back home.
    JG...more info
  • dirt farmer
    i am a big fan of levon helm and he sounds better than ever on this cd. this is the music he was born to sing. he brings alot of heart to these old country songs. i hadn't heard a bit of this cd before buying it. i bought it hoping to like it. not only was i not disappointed, i was thrilled. this is the best music purchase i've made in a long time. ...more info
  • Pretty Solid
    This CD is not a gem or anything, but it is a collection of solid music which proves that Levon is still a viable musician after some 40 years. The best tracks, in my opinion are 'Got Me A Woman' and 'Feelin Good'. At certain points, Levon's voice seems sort of weak, but there are female backup singers who usually do a pretty good job of providing vocal depth. Levon had a courageous battle with throat cancer, and it's quite impressive that he could pull this off!...more info
  • We Love Levon
    Great overall work from one of the rock icons. Besides being a legend, he is a wonderful man, and a gentleman, who I have met a few times. Great work by Larry Campbell, and Theresa Williams, well deserved Grammy....more info
  • This CD is amazing! It also led us to Ollabelle. We love it
    We had the good fortune to meet Levon Helm at Slim's in San Francisco in 1990. We had just seen the Doll Maker with him & Jane Fonda. He was such a gentleman. We of course are also big fans of the Band.
    This cd is raw,real,& pure emotion!!!!! Six stars, instead of five.
    His daughter, Amy,is wonderful too & I highly recommend Ollabelle....more info
  • This Country Rocks
    Dirt Farmer is the best album I have heard in years! If you like country, folk, gospel and the blues, you will love this album. From the first time I heard it, I liked it, but now I adore it. From beginning to end, this is a masterpiece. In my mind, the songs that stand out are as follows: False Hearted Lover Blues, The Mountain, Little Birds, Calvary, Got Me A Woman, Single Girl, Married Girl and Wide River To Cross. This album has great songs, superb musicianship and gorgeous harmonies. What else could you ask for? This country rocks! ...more info
  • Levon's Roots Music
    Some say N. Mississippi and Arkansas are the melting pot of "American" music; blues, bluegrass, country, folk, etc. This album reflects this from the heart of an American treasure backed up by his daughter....it proves apples don't fall far from the tree! Levon was the musical conscience of The Band. This album is a superlative interpretation of his roots music....more info
  • Back to his Roots
    Levon Helm brings it home with this great new collection. Each song starts off as a seed and starts to grow and gets nurtured and before your very ears turns into a solid oak tree. In todays world where musicians depend on electronics,Levon brings back basic skills like playing real instruments. How refreshing to hear 3 part harmony over just a fiddle. Wow The placement of Levons snare drum in a waltz will set the standard for years to come. Real instruments, real songs and real people, that's bringing music back home.
    JG...more info
  • The sweat, blood and dirt of America - put to music.
    Simply put, the best CD I have purchased in the past 3 years. The Buddhists say to transcend suffering. However, like Cormac McCarthy, Levon Helm celebrates the blood, sweat, suffering, pain, and dirt of rural America in music. The musicianship and production is perfectly raw and honest to the material. Levon's voice is filled with aged wisdom and back in full-force. But more than anything, Levon has captured a feeling or a pulse or an essence that's linked to the core of America like the dirt our homes are built upon and done it in a way that is, for lack of a better word, amazing....more info