A new documentary film on the late musician Levon Helm — who has extensive links to the Atlantic City area — will open in April in New York, with showings planned after in select cities. (Maybe Philly?)
Ain’t in It for My Health: A Film About Levon Helm follows the drummer-vocalist (The Band, Levon & the Hawks, Grammy-winning solo career) during the period in the late ’00s when Helm was hotter than ever, battling back from cancer, releasing his first solo album in a quarter-century (2007’s Dirt Farmer) and then going on to win a Grammy for it, as well as his subsequent release (2010’s Electric Dirt).
[Read Atlantic City Weekly's Jeff Schwachter's award-winning story on Levon from 2007.]
The following year’s live album Ramble at the Ryman was also well received, hitting several Billboard charts upon its release and into 2012.
The documentary, according to Rolling Stone, will debut on April 19, the first anniversary of Helm’s death at age 71 in Woodstock, New York, where he was based for decades.
In the summer of 1965, Helm and his band, Levon & The Hawks were booked in Somers Point at the nightclub Tony Mart’s, about 15 minutes from Atlantic City, when Bob Dylan stole the band from the Jersey shore, eventually taking the Hawks on the road with him for his historic worldwide electric tour in 1965-66 (for the most part minus Helm) and striking up a working relationship and friendships with the members of the Hawks (later to be rechristened The Band) that would last for decades.
In recent years, the Arkansas-born Helm did a lot of concerts and festivals, including the now legendary Midnight Ramble concerts he’d put on in his Woodstock barn, with a crack unit of musicians as well as special guests such as Elvis Costello and Steely Dan over the years.
It would be great to hear Levon doing his beloved mandolin-based version of Bruce Springsteen’s “Atlantic City” in the film.
To read about Levon Helm’s connections to South Jersey, click here and here.