The list of great musicians who have played the Levitt Pavilion is long and storied: Willie Nelson. Ray Charles. Smokey Robinson. Buckwheat Zydeco.
And Levon Helm.
Back in the 1980s — after playing with Mountain (“Mississippi Queen”) and at Woodstock — drummer Corky Laing moved to Westport.
On Independence Day 1989, he threw his “2nd annual 4th of July Picnic” at the Levitt.
The musicians and set list have been preserved on an obscure website, BootsDaily.com. It’s what you find if you dig through enough Google pages after searching for “Levon Helm Levitt Pavilion.”
Check out the band (not The Band — but just as good):
- Corky Laing (drums, vocals)
- Levon Helm (drums, mandolin, vocals)
- Felix Cavaliere (Hammond B-3, vocals — former member of the Rascals)
- Lester Chambers (vocals — former Chambers Brother)
- Mark Clarke (bass, vocals — former member of Uriah Heep)
- Plus “a few folks from Felix’s band.”
Among their 20 songs: “Can’t Turn You Loose,” “Rag Mama Rag,” “Up on Cripple Creek” (“NASTY,” the website says admiringly in all caps), “The Weight,” “The Shape I’m In,” “Groovin’,” “Mustang Sally,” “People Got to Be Free,” “Good Lovin’,” “Time Has Come Today,” “Mississippi Queen” and a “La Bamba/Maybelline/Roll Over Beethoven” medley.
In other words: the best of the Band, Chambers Brothers and Rascals, played by guys who had a great time rockin’ Westport on the 4th of July.
Whoever runs the BootsDaily website added this information about himself:
I worked for a sound company in southern CT in the late 80s and early 90s.
Mostly I was a glorified moving man, long hours, shitty pay, and the women have all gone home by the time you break down and get the truck loaded again….
At this (Westport) show, because of a overbooked schedule, I ended up running monitors….
(This) was my favorite show I was ever involved with, and one of my high moments of 34 years of concert going.
It must have been one hell of a show. I can’t believe I missed it.
And today, we’re all missing Levon Helm.