Drive-By Truckers - The Barn at Levon Helm Studios - Woodstock, NY 5/2/23
Every music fan should have this venue on their concert map. Home of the famous Midnight Ramble, the Barn (as it affectionately known) offers what is really a dreamy concert experience on a weekly basis. Very few venues in the country offer the intimacy and experience that this venue offers. It's really in a class by itself. And each artist who takes the stage there feels those vibes, this is no ordinary tour stop.
The Drive-By Truckers, from Athens, GA, have been southern rock royalty for more than twenty years. Patterson Hood and Mike Conley trade guitar licks and vocal duties on a sound that is influenced by the Allmans Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Crazy Horse. The two have contrasting styles, Cooley is louder and more intense, and Hood has more scratchy smooth vocals, the two opposing styles compliment each other well. Standout tracks included " The Driver", "Heathens", and "Gravity's Gone". A full setlist of the show is available here.
DBT have some incredible lyrics (founding member Jason Isbell contributed some of the earlier work), but even their more recent songwriting tells great stories. On the poignant "Wilder Days" the closing track off the 2022 album 'Welcome 2 Club XIII' Hood sings
Now the days are getting shorter
And the years are counting down
And the sun gets dizzy watching us
As we go spinning around
I find it best to laugh at the absurdity
Of life above the ground
There's no comfort in survival
But it's still the best option I've found.
When you go see a show at the Barn, or any great venue for that matter, it's impossible not to notice how the bands themselves have such respect and joy to be there. This night in Woodstock was no exception. Proclaiming on his social media before the show that playing the Barn was "day of the goosebumps". Later in the evenings set, Patterson Hood told a story about the last time he played at the venue 13 years prior, when Levon was still alive. He said they were playing a tune and he had his father David Hood on bass (a former Muscle Shoals musician), Donald Fagan (Steely Dan) on keys, and Levon on drums. Levon told him that he hadn't played that song with anyone except for Rick Danko (the Band). That's the power of the Barn. It brings together the past and the future in a way that just makes sense. Rock 'n roll, after all, knows where it's roots are.
Hood told the crowd how thankful they were to be there, and how they appreciated the crowd of music lovers who came out on a Tuesday night in Woodstock to see them. He promised they would play some rarities and deeper cuts from their repertoire. "It's fucking great to be alive" he said, nearly quoting the title of the DBT 2015 'It's Great To Be Alive!'.
If you were lucky enough to be in the crowd that night, you know what he meant.
Show recap and photos courtesy of Ben H.