One of my all-time favorite band of musicians, appropriately monikered, The Band. They’ve been the inspiration behind many a great musician, myself and my band included*. There’s really not much that I can say that hasn’t been said before, but luckily, I can share a personal story about The Band and the little town that nurtured their music.
My band had the absolute pleasure and privilege of recording two records in the legendaryBearsville studios in Bearsville, NY. Bearsville (for all intents and purposes, Woodstock) is a little town nestled in the beautiful Catskill mountains in upstate New York. Bearsville studios was opened and owned by Albert Grossman, who managed Bob Dylan and The Band, among many others, and was originally responsible for pulling Dylan into Woodstock, and subsequently, The Band. The main building housed a couple rooms — a small B room, and a gigantic main room where we got to track drums. There was also a barn at the bottom of the property next to the houses where we stayed, again, appropriately named, “The Barn”, where we recorded an entire record. The main studio had sadly been shut down our second time ‘round, and it was rumored that we were the last ones to be recording at The Barn as well (although I think another record or two was made there). My experiences there is something I’ll keep with me for the rest of my life — Being marooned out in the middle of the woods for weeks or months and recording records in a place so rich in history.
The real Band tie-in: One day, Sally Grossman, widow of Albert Grossman (and also lady on the cover of Dylan’s Bringing It All Back Home) who now owned the studio told us that the property needed a new well, and that she had a friend coming over to divine for wateron the property. Soon after, an old man in overalls and a big scraggly beard comes driving up in a pickup truck. He comes up to us and asks us if there are any wire hangers in the houses. My buddy Dustin obliges and runs up stairs to get him a couple hangers. He thanks us, disassembles the hangers, and starts looking for water. A week or so later, Sally takes us out to a ridiculously amazing dinner at the local gourmet house, Bear Cafe,and besides telling us lots of incredible stories about Albert, Dylan, The Band, and the 60’s/70’s in general, she casually mentions something about her friend Garth that came by the other day. And then it clicked. It was Garth freaking Hudson. Whoa. Should’ve figured it out, but I don’t think any of us were expecting a member of The Band to come casually up to the studio and divine for water. Looking back though, he pretty much looks exactly the same, only old and scraggly, which I think is how he’s wanted to look his entire life anyway.
Most of them have passed away now, but I know Garth Hudson is still kicking, and Levon is still ruling, putting out records, acting in movies, and hosting a weekly hootenanny called the Midnight Ramble (which is a life goal of Dustin and mine to go see someday…we need to do it soon, he’s gettin old). What a guy. Anyhow, I love this band…err, The Band.
* Included in the former (inspiration) and not the latter (great musician).
The Band doing a photo shoot in the main tracking room during the construction of Bearsville Studios
Bearsville Studios, main building
Bearsville Studios, The Barn
Inside the massive Studio A tracking room
Kills me everytime. Mavis Staples just kills it.