“The Night They Drove Port Washington Down”

The Weight brings music of The Band to Landmark on Main

Fans braved torrential rain and wind to get to Landmark on Main Street on Thursday night, November 19 (2015), to hear The Weight perform the music of The Band. The five-piece power group is the closest thing to The Band – with all of the members either having played with The Band at one time, or played with some incarnation. The Band’s long history would take an entire article to explain – suffice it to say that the roots rock group made its mark on music history, and some of its songs – particularly the one that this band named themselves after – are absolute anthems.

The Weight - photo courtesy of the artist

The Weight is made up of five guys who probably have close to two centuries of musical experience. All sing as well as well as play instruments, and all are seasoned performers. Jim Weider (Facebook) on guitar and vocals, replaced Robbie Robertson as lead guitar in the second incarnation of The Band from 1985 – 2000. Randy Ciarlante @RandyCiarlante on drums and vocals also played in the second incarnation of The Band, as well as in the Levon Helm Band. Brian Mitchell on vocals, piano, organ and accordion played in The Levon Helm Band and with Bob Dylan. Byron Issacs @ByronIsaacs on vocals and bass plays in Levon’s Midnight Ramble Band as well as his own band Ollabelle @OllabelleMusic (which performed at Landmark in the past). Finally, Marty Grebb on vocals, organ, piano and saxophone played with The Rick Danko Band, Eric Clapton and many more. Each member is a well-known and respected musician in his own right. Together they are stunning.

Taking turns with lead vocals, The Weight played about twenty songs, including the ever popular “Up on Cripple Creek,” “The Weight,” and “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.” Each member of The Weight has a different and distinctive singing voice, and they took turns with lead vocals, harmonies and duets – some raspy, some bluesy, some sweet and clear. Each musician had a chance to show off his talents – particularly Brian Mitchell on accordion and Marty Grebb on sax, and Jim Weider is a superb guitarist.

There were a few humorous moments as well, particularly when the band brought out a giant piece of cardboard with the lyrics written on it, which they dubbed a “redneck teleprompter.” Highlights of the show included an absolutely beautiful rendition of “Unfaithful Servant,” a spirited version of “The Shape I’m In,” a heart-wrenching “It Makes No Difference,” and a superb encore, “I Shall be Released” with stunning five-part harmonies. The first encore was the upbeat “Life is a Carnival.”

While I never had the good fortune to see the original Band, The Weight is about as close as anyone can get these days, and are absolutely worth seeing if you appreciate good musicians.

Performance: 19 November 2015 at Landmark on Main Street, Port Washington NY