As the step-daughter of Steely Dan’s Donald Fagan and daughter of Levon Helm and Libby Titus, Amy Helm’s lineage is well documented. Although Levon Helm played an influential role in his daughter’s musical development and professional career, Amy has developed into a confident and powerful performer in her own right, and she has been building a dedicated following since her first solo release, Didn’t It Rain, in 2015.
Helm made her final appearance on the Woodshed Residency Tour at the Lizard Lounge in Boston on Friday night. Playing a three night residency over a two week period in three small clubs in New York, Philadelphia and Boston, Helm worked through a set of new material, as well as originals and covers, all backed by a stellar group of musicians, including five-time Grammy winner Cindy Cashdollar, Andy Stack on guitar, Jacob Silver on bass and David Berger on drums.
In the intimate Lizard Lounge, Helm’s set had the relaxed and informal feel of one of Levon Helm’s early Midnight Ramble gatherings at his home studio in Woodstock, New York. At one point early in the evening, Helm stopped the band in mid song to start over. On another song, Helm mentioned off handedly that she would not be playing mandolin because she didn’t know the chords. Even with these laissez-faire moments, Helms performance was riveting and transcendent on both the spirited and uplifting covers “Yes we Can” (Allen Toussaint), “Only You Know and I Know” (Delaney & Bonnie), “Baby, Don’t You Do It” ( Holland–Dozier–Holland), as well as the her own soulful material, “Sky is Falling”, “Didn’t it Rain” and “Rescue Me.” Although Amy Helm has been performing live since high school, her charisma and talent is clearly starting to reach a wider audience and word is spreading in the concert and festival circuit as she becomes a must see artist.
Article and photos by JD Cohen