The Weight carries music of The Band to Dover’s Schwartz Center

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The Weight, comprised of former members of The Band and those who worked with drummer Levon Helm, will perform the music of The Band Saturday night at Dover’s Schwartz Center for the Arts. (Submitted photo)

Three years after Levon Helm passed away, his musical legacy lives on with The Weight.

Mr. Helm, the drummer for the seminal rock group The Band, died in 2012, taking with him decades of musical memories. But it was one of his final wishes that the tunes don’t go away just because he did.

Enter guitarist Jim Weider and drummer Randy Ciarlante, who played with The Band in its second incarnation for many years until Mr. Helm’s death.

Together with bassist Byron Isaacs and keyboardist Brian Mitchell, both members of Mr. Helm’s side project, The Midnight Ramble, and Marty Grebb, who often played with members of The Band and wrote for their critically acclaimed “Jericho” album in 1993, The Weight has been giving new life to the music for the past two years.

The Weight makes a much-anticipated stop at Dover’s Schwartz Center for the Arts Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

“Randy and I made three albums with The Band,” said Mr. Weider, who replaced original member Robbie Robertson in 1985.

Best Bets logo CLEAR copy“Levon, (guitarist and member of The Levon Helm Band) Jimmy Vivino and (original Band member) Garth Hudson and I would do songs of The Band at Levon’s place The Barn and we would just get a great reaction and it was really fun to do.

“After Levon passed away, we really wanted to put something together. But Vivino works on the Conan O’Brien show and Garth tours constantly with his wife and I told Randy ‘Let’s just do it ourselves’ and man, it’s been great.”

Mr. Weider said it’s the group’s commitment to the music that makes it work.

“All of the guys Brian, Byron and Marty, who has this amazing voice, plays the sax and has written with Rick (Danko), Levon and Richard (Manuel), they all have such true reverence for The Band. If they didn’t, I don’t think I would have done it,” he said.

The 64-year-old Mr. Weider, an accomplished guitarist who has worked with such greats as Keith Richards, Dr. John and Graham Parker, said he was surprised by the initial success of The Weight.

“I remember it was our third or fourth show in New Orleans, where we hadn’t played in years, and there must have been 600 or 700 people wrapped around the building waiting to get in. It was amazing. I was shocked,” he said.

He says The Weight now plays to a couple of generations who “really want to hear these songs even today.”

He thinks he knows why.

“The music really defines America. This was the first Americana band. Levon was from Arkansas and worked in the cotton fields but would go down to New Orleans and play in these blues festivals and really brought to the table an American vibe,” Mr. Weider said.

“And then Robbie melded this Canadian French folk influence but was still influenced by people like Bob Dylan. The songs are so straight-up visionary. They have stories that I think hold up today. They will hold up forever. They’ll hold up on Mars. Martians will be singing these songs.”

Mr. Weider said a typical show by The Weight features a mix of familiar and lesser-known tunes.

“We’ll go back to the classics like ‘The Weight,’ ‘Cripple Creek,’ ‘Ophelia’ but then we’ll do stuff like ‘The Rumor,’ for example, that has really not been heard live since 1968 or 1969,” he said.

Mr. Weider, who also toured with The Levon Helm Band, says he hadn’t played many of these songs in a while before forming The Weight.

“With Levon’s band, we’d do three or four Band tunes during a show. So it was nice to take a break from it for a while but it’s great to come back to it now,” he said.

“We’re actually working on an original album now and seeing how far we can take this.”

He said he was a fan of Mr. Helm first before he became a contemporary, having met him when Mr. Weider was a teenager back in 1969 growing up in Woodstock, New York, where he lives today.

Mr. Helm would come into a stereo shop where Mr. Weider worked at the time and the two got to know each other prior to Mr. Weider’s music career and his role with The Band.

“I played his music much of my life. I would go and play the ‘(Music from) Big Pink’ and ‘Brown’ (self-titled) albums with my buddies. Music has always been a big part of my life and these guys were always local heroes to me. That’s why I feel this music should carry on and we’re doing our best to do that.”

Tickets for Saturday night’s show are $35-$38 with a VIP package available for $59.

The VIP package includes exclusive access to the premium seating in the mezzanine and balcony, an open bar and a meet and greet with the band following the show.

For tickets, visit www.schwartzcenter.com, call 678-5152 or visit the box office at 226 S. State St.

Cashore Marionettes

It’s a big weekend at the Schwartz as tonight the theater welcomes the Cashore Marionettes Friday night at 7:30.

The internationally acclaimed marionettes have performed for audiences in Europe, the Far East and across North America including stops at the Kennedy Center.

The performance is a series of scenes taken from everyday life and set to music by composers such as Beethoven, Vivaldi, Strauss and Copland.

Tickets are $22-25 and available by calling 678-5152 or visiting www.schwartzcenter.com or the theater at 226 S. State St., Dover.

High school plays on tap

It’s also a big week for high school plays.

As we told you last week Dover High Drama presents “A Family Reunion to Die For,” a murder-mystery by Mike and Matt Steele Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

General admission tickets are $10, students $5 (includes refreshments).

Starting Thursday, The Caesar Rodney High School Stage Crew & Thespians present the drama “The Miracle Worker” through Nov. 14 at 7 p.m.

Immortalized onstage and screen by Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke, this classic tells the story of Annie Sullivan and her student, blind and mute Helen Keller.

Tickets are $6 for general admission and $4 for students and senior citizens. They are available by visiting www.crsat.org or at the door.

More on the play in next week’s Finally Friday!

Trainor Trio, Hot Breakfast!

As we also told you last week, The Joe Trainor Trio with special guests Hot Breakfast! will perform Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Smyrna Opera House.

Hot off the heels of their spirited and well-received Smyrna Opera House tribute to Billy Joel in July, The Joe Trainor Trio returns for a night of original music.

Wilmington-based singer/songwriter Mr. Trainor (piano) along with Kevin Niemi (bass) and Jeff Dement (drums) bring their unique piano-rock to Smyrna for one night only.

Joining them will be the Wilmington-based acoustic “dork-rock” duo, Hot Breakfast!, consisting of Jill Knapp and Matt Casarino (who were also part of this year’s Billy Joel tribute).

This energetic duo bring have been wowing audiences with their brand of catchy (and sometimes funny) performances.

Tickets are $16 general admission, $14 for members, senior citizens and military and $8 for children.

To obtain them, visit www.smyrnaoperahouse.org, call 653-4236 or visit the box office at 7 W. South St.

Fall Classical Piano Series

On Sunday, the Smyrna Opera House will welcome University of Delaware piano majors Tongtong Shan, Audric Baal and Christin Cooper as they perform a classical piano recital.

This is the second part of the opera house’s Fall Classical Piano Series and will feature them performing works by Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert, Clementi, Satie and Debussy.

Tickets are $16 for adults, $14 for seniors, members, and military, and $8 for children under 12.

To obtain them, visit www.smyrnaoperahouse.org, call 653-4236 or visit the box office at 7 W. South St.

Amillion at World Cafe Live

Finally, Dover hip-hop artist and community activist Amillion the Poet will perform at World Cafe Live at The Queen in Wilmington on Market Street Friday night at 8.

The author, poet and music artist has appeared on MTV, VH1soul, BET and last fall organized a Walk the Talk community awareness event in Dover.

The Wilmington show will feature a live performance by Amillion and R&B singer Mylezia.

Tickets are on sale for $15 and available at www.amillionthepoet.com and queentickets.worldcafelive.com.

Now showing

New this weekend in theaters is the latest James Bond movie “Spectre” with Daniel Craig and “The Peanuts Movie 3D.”

On DVD and download starting Tuesday is “Terminator Genisys,” the Amy Schumer comedy “Trainwreck,” the Ryan Reynolds sci-fi thriller “Self/Less” and Ian McKellen as Sherlock Holmes in “Mr. Holmes.”

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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