NORWICH – This week's installment of the NBT Sumner Concert Series features The Weight, boasting an iconic five-piece ensemble featuring Jim Weider and Randy Ciarlante from The Band, Brian Mitchell of the Levon Helm Band along with Albert Rogers and Marty Grebb.
While a good portion of The Weight's set list has been torn directly out of The Band's playbook—as even the namesake of the The Weight was taken directly from The Band's catalogue—simply labeling the group a “tribute band” would be an undeserving broad-stroke of the whitewash brush given the years of honing and polishing these men have given their craft.
Replicating the music of The Band is a tall order, but interpreting the music of The Band is an art. Songs that have reverberated across history for decades continue to speak to millions of us. And The Weight's who's-who quintet of the American soundtrack remains a vehicle through which all can continue to share those stories and dance to those back beats.
Thankfully, the current repertoire is bound to include the obligatory, timeless 'Band hits such as 'The Weight,' 'Up On Cripple Creek,' 'Rag Mama Rag,' 'The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,' and of course ‘Ophelia.’ For those who weren't fortunate enough to witness the magic of The Band first-hand, this current incarnation is the most authentic presentation of The Band that the world is ever going to get. Suffice to say, it does not get much better than this.
It can be said that every once in a while, engaging with a “cover band” for a trip down memory lane to revel in the magic of a group long since dissolved is somewhat of a necessity, but The Weight’s veritable genius is the way they take sounds of The Band several steps further. Each member is connected with The Band in one fashion or another, often attributing homage to past members, and now they bring this original and unique blend of music to the East Park stage.
Recently, renditions of Springsteen, Dylan and even Chuck Willis have been meticulously weaved into The Weight’s rotation, and it’s easy to pick out roots from the early days from the groups live offering of post-’Band heyday originals that have that have rounded out their setlist.
Each member has at most one degree of separation with The Band in one fashion or another, and often attributing homage to past members is part of the story, and now that original and unique blend of music will fill the East Park stage.
If you’re looking for a great evening of entertainment that will spice up your week and put a smile in your soul, make sure you check out The Weight—because it’s not everyday that a paragon of musical influence to this level blows though route 12. If you’re not a fan, and even in the event that you’ve never heard of The Band or The Weight, I guarantee you will find yourself singing along thinking, “Hey, I know this song.”
Best of all, the performance is free courtesy of NBT Bank, the Chenango Blues Association and the Chenango Arts Council.
Show begins at 7 p.m. in Norwich's East Park Thursday evening, and the Chenango Arts Council's 515-seat Martin Kappel Theater will serve as a rain location if the skies decide to open up.
Be sure to bring a chair and other festival essentials along, seating is first-come, first-served.