Three weeks ago, Los Lobos played the last Midnight Ramble hosted by Levon Helm at his barn-studio in Woodstock. That was divinely appropriate since the Wolves and Levon's old group, The Band, shared the same deep passion for American roots music. The photo of Levon's drum kit was taken by Louie Pérez, who graciously shares this remembrance of an earlier visit with Levon:
It was a cold snowy night in 1991 when David Hidalgo and I arrived in Woodstock. We’d flown in to spend a week writing songs with some of our all-time heroes for an upcoming record. We had just thrown our jackets over a chair when the phone rang. I picked up the receiver and the voice on the other end said, in an uncompromising Southern jangle, "Hey Louie, its Levon Helm. Welcome to Woodstock!" Before I could get in a word, the voice continued: “Can you do me a favor? Could you and David pull on your boots and put on your coats and come over to my house for a taco plate?” Twenty minutes later we were winding down a narrow country road in an early '80s Caddy driven by the man whose signature vocals made The Band immediately recognizable to every man, woman, perro y gato. We spent the rest of the night in his honored company, eating Fritos smothered in meat sauce, switching channels between the Gulf War and “Old Yeller” on the TV set in his living room. For my dinero, he was the connective tissue that held together one of the most evocative aggregates in music history. He moved us all with his heartfelt song and grooved us till the bovines came home. Any drummer worth his weight in drumsticks would die for his pocket. For me and David, he was more than an inspiration. He was a friend and nobody could have asked for a more caring and soulful one. I’ll never forget the image of him, after dropping us off at our doorstep, bellies full and sides aching from a evening of too much laughter, his arm extended out of the Cadillac’s driver's side window, waving as he drove away into that white winter night. See you later, hermano. We’ll love you forever.