Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

Blues Group Brings 'Something Real' to Santa Fe.

Byline: Kay Roybal For the Journal

A genuine rock-and-roll icon will show Santa Fe how it's done Monday night when the great drummer Levon Helm formerly of The Band introduces his blues group, the Barn Burners, at the Paramount.

A collection of young players from upstate New York, the Barn Burners have been around a few years, performing in Woodstock and for a time as house band at Helm's New Orleans club. Anchored by Helm's state-of-the-art blues drumming, they have that tight and loose quality that comes from playing together a lot.

And to top it off, they're bringing saxophone hero Bobby Keys. Keys has played with Elvis and the Beatles and on Rolling Stones tours and albums since the '70s, (yes, that's him on "Brown Sugar"). He started playing with Helm in the fall and is currently a full fledged Barn Burner.

The last time Helm graced New Mexico with his smooth southern style and famous junk beat was when The Band some called it the new Band played Midnight Rodeo five years ago. A lot's happened since then.

There was the death of Band bassist Rick Danko a year ago and a bout with throat cancer that cost Helm his lowdown growl of a singing voice, the voice most of us first heard on "The Weight," the most recognized song from The Band's first album, "Music From Big Pink."

When the Barn Burners play, most of the singing is handled by Chris O'Leary, a powerfully built former Marine whose passion and good humor infuse his vocals and forceful harp playing. …

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