https://kingstonhappenings.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/324077960_702958467850957_8277352864916110134_n.jpg 1363 2048 Kingston Happenings https://kingstonhappenings.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Final-KH-Logo.png Kingston Happenings2023-02-27 09:09:452023-02-27 10:04:35The Helm Family Midnight Ramble ft. Saundra Williams w/ Sam Cohen at Levon Helm Studios
The Helm Family Midnight Ramble ft. Saundra Williams w/ Sam Cohen at Levon Helm Studios
The Helm Family Midnight Ramble is a musical tribute to the founding songbook of Rock and Roll. Born inside the hallowed walls of Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock, NY, the Midnight Ramble has preserved and furthered Levon Helm’s legacy for nearly two decades, playing the iconic music of The Band, and Levon Helm.
The Helm Family Midnight Ramble crosses generational and musical lines, featuring an ever-evolving family of musicians. Amy Helm honors her father’s penultimate vision for both Levon Helm Studios and the Midnight Ramble – to create a community for musicians to share their art, and “keep it going.”
Born in Harlem, N.Y. in 1963, Saundra Williams has been singing to survive ever since. At times, this has meant singing for a paycheck, just to make it through another week. At all times, it’s meant singing as prayer – prayers to give thanks, to heal, and to simply be heard, seen and sustained.
Her voice has taken her many places. From the church, to her first recording session (helmed by the legendary Grandmaster Flash), to her long run with Sharon Jones (which began in a wedding band prior to The Dap-Kings), to singing beside Mavis Staples, where she can still be found.
But it’s only now, ripe with wisdom and experience, that she is finally branching out on her own to share the stories of her becoming.
This is due in large part to a new collaboration with artist / producer Sam Cohen (Kevin Morby / Curtis Harding / Danger Mouse). During the Covid pandemic, Williams lost both her mother and a brother three days apart. That devastation coupled with the isolation and loss of work, were almost crushing for her. She began posting a capella clips online, to vent, to share, to reach and connect. She received encouragement from Cohen and they began discussing a creative partnership that has resulted in a striking debut album, Saundra Williams w/ Sam Cohen, “A New Day”.
Williams describes it as the first time she’s truly had the chance to express herself fully in a musical project. While Cohen skillfully crafts the instrumental arrangements and production, it is always in service of her stories, her feelings, and her vision, which they discuss in depth while creating.
The music that has come of these sessions will undoubtedly surprise and excite fans of both Williams’ and Cohen’s past work. It’s a sound that references all at once the musical history spanned by Williams life and career, yet it’s presented with both eyes and ears toward the future. It’s open and raw, reaching outward and singing upward. An explosion of beauty, a prayer to be heard.
Sam Cohen, the multi-talented Brooklyn-based musician and producer, released his first solo album, Cool It, in 2016. As the man behind the psychedelic-rock band Yellowbirds, Cohen released The Color in 2011 and Songs from the Vanished Frontier in 2013. Most recently, he has produced Kevin Morby‘s album, Singing Saw, Benjamin Booker‘s sophomore release, Witness, Curtis Harding‘s, Face Your Fear, and Resistance Radio: The Man in the High Castle Album (co-produced with Danger Mouse), a companion piece to the eponymous Amazon series, which features Beck, Norah Jones, Karen O, Sharon Van Etten, Michael Kiwanuka and many more.