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KASU-FM Radio To Host Levon Helm Tribute Concert


JONESBORO, Ark. — Arkansas State University’s KASU-FM radio station invites all to come “Take a Load Off” on Saturday, May 31, at a tribute concert honoring Arkansas native Levon Helm, a three-time Grammy award winning artist, widely known as the drummer for The Band. The concert begins at 7 p.m. in the Forum, 115 E. Monroe in Jonesboro.

The show will feature Danny Dozier and the Lockhouse Orchestra for the evening, with guest performances by world-renowned trumpeter Gary Gazaway of Pocahontas and legendary saxophonist Charlie Chalmers of Branson, Mo.

Tickets for the event are $8 and can be purchased online with no fees at the Foundation of Arts website, www.foajonesboro.org/bulletinboard/. Tickets can also be purchased at the Forum Box Office, 115 E. Monroe, Jonesboro or over the phone at 935-2726 Tuesday through Friday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tickets are available at two locations in Batesville: Merchants and Planters Bank, 555 E. Main St. and the Batesville Daily Guard newspaper, 258 W. Main Street. For more information contact, KASU station manager, Mike Doyle at (870) 972-3468 or mdoyle@astate.edu.

Mike Doyle, KASU station manager and Department of Media instructor at Arkansas State, said the Levon Helm Tribute Concert “is all about good fun, great music and paying tribute to Helm, a native of Marvell in Phillips County and a musical legend who would have turned 74 a few days prior to this concert.” Helms was born May 26, 1940 and died April 19, 2012.

“Levon was an Arkansas born performer who had a profound impact on the history of music in this country,” Doyle said. “You’re going to hear some really good music at this concert!”

Dozier formed a rock and roll band known as The Lockhouse Orchestra to perform a series of monthly tribute concerts to popular musical artists including The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, Eric Clapton, and Sheryl Crow.

Although the group is bolstered with a diversity of experience, the members of Lockhouse have two very important things in common: the love of music and an undying appreciation for the Ozark Mountains.

Batesville natives Dozier and John Parks are vocalists and guitarists; Jason Moser, also of Batesville, is the Lockhouse Orchestra drummer. Sarah Jo Roark of Melbourne and Penny Wolfe of Evening Shade sing background vocals on many songs and take the lead on others. Jerry Bone of Oxford is one of north Arkansas’ most respected bass guitarists. Bone, Dozier and Parks have each recorded solo CDs at various studios in the Ozark foothills.

Gazaway and Chalmers have made names for themselves playing with an impressive list of performers. Gazaway, a 1975 graduate of Arkansas State University, plays trumpet and trombone and has performed with musical legends, ranging from Joe Cocker to George Jones to Stevie Ray Vaughn. Chalmers played saxophone on numerous hits including Aretha Franklin’s “Respect”, Wilson Pickett’s “Mustang Sally” and Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together.”

Mark Levon Helm was born in Elaine, Ark. and grew up near Marvell in Phillips County. Helms’ father was a cotton farmer and a music lover. The Grand Ole Opry and King Biscuit Time radio shows, the latter featuring bluesman Sonny Boy Williamson, were favorites in the Helm household. Helm’s father bought him a guitar when he was nine-years-old, and Helms struck his first musical partnership with his bass-playing sister, Linda. The brother and sister duo regularly won talent competitions in local clubs.

Helm formed his own high school Rock ’n’ Roll band, the Jungle Bush Beaters. At age 17, Helm was invited to perform onstage with a more established local band, Conway Twitty and the Rock Housers. After graduating Marvell High School, he was recruited to play in fellow Arkansan Ronnie Hawkins’ band the Hawks, a rockabilly group that changed members throughout the late 1950s and early 60s while playing the lucrative Canadian night club circuit.

Members of the Hawks became the backup band for Bob Dylan when he switched from acoustic folk to electric rock during the mid 1960s. After touring Europe with Dylan, they followed him to live near Woodstock, N.Y. where they began to write and record original material. As a member of this group that became known simply as The Band, Helm became one of the most well known drummer-vocalists of the rock era. He sang lead vocals on “Cripple Creek,” “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” and “The Weight” (Take a Load Off, Fanny)” which is ranked number 41 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of 500 greatest songs of all time.

The Band was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1989 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. In 2008, they received the Grammys Lifetime Achievement Award.

Helm was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1998 and lost his singing voice for several years. After treatment, his cancer went into remission and he gradually regained the ability to sing. His 2007 comeback album, "Dirt Farmer," earned the Grammy award for Best Traditional Folk Album. In 2010, a second album, "Electric Dirt," won the first Grammy Award for Best Americana Album. In 2011, his live album, "Ramble at the Ryman," won another Grammy in the same category.

In early 2012, Helm’s cancer returned and he died on April 19 at a New York City cancer center.

“Well Luke my friend, what about young Anna Lee? Do me a favor son, won’t you stay and keep Anna Lee company?” (from “The Weight” by The Band).

Anna Lee Williams was Levon Helms’ slightly younger neighbor in the hamlet of Turkey Scratch, near Marvell, where both grew up. They were like brother and sister and continued a lifetime friendship through post cards, phone calls and visits when possible. She is the “Anna Lee” referenced in the well-known lyrics of “The Weight.” Anna Lee Amsden now lives in Cabot and will be a special guest at the Levon Helm Tribute concert at the Forum.

KASU Radio is labeling the Levon Helm tribute concert as an Arkansas Roots concert, an outgrowth of the station’s new midday radio program with that title.

KASU Radio: www.kasu.org
The Forum: www.foajonesboro.org
Levon Helm: www.levonhelm.com/
The Band: www.theband.hiof.no/
Danny Dozier and the Lockhouse Orchestra: www.facebook.com/lockhouseorchestra
Trumpeter Gary Gazaway: www.elbuho.com/
Saxophonist Charlie Chalmers: www.charliechalmers.com/

Levon Helm
Levon Helm


The Lockhouse Orchestra (Seated from left) Sarah Jo Roark, Penny Wolfe, and Danny Dozier. (Standing) John T. Parks, Jerry Bone, Jason Moser.

Gazaway, Chalmers

 Trumpeter Gary Gazaway (left) and saxophonist Charlie Chalmers.