Despite fighting cancer for the last decade and a half of his life, Helm never let his illness stifle his creativity. Unable to tour, the former drummer for the Band spent the past decade hosting the Midnight Ramble at his home studio in Woodstock, NY, often inviting guests up to perform and collaborate. Hansard, the singer-guitarist for the Frames and one-half of Oscar-winning duo the Swell Season, was invited to participate on multiple occasions, the first time being in October 2008.
"I don't know how it came about but they invited [the Swell Season] to come up," Hansard tells Spinner. "Our drummer was flipping out. Levon brought us into the kitchen, made us apple pie and made us tea. We talked with him. He gave us some hash cookies for the journey home. We got on really well with him and he really enjoyed our set. So he kept in contact with me."
Last spring, Hansard asked members from Levon's band down to New York City to contribute to his debut solo album, Rhythm and Repose. Then last fall, Hansard was invited back to Helm's, where they discussed trying out new songs. Hansard played the music icon a song called "Lucia," whose riff was based on the Band's "Don't Do It."
"It was such a joy, watching Levon, the man who inspired the song, the way he hang off that beat, it's just a little bit late," says Hansard. "And I tend to rush. I was learning watching him and just learning how to hold the guitar back."
Unfortunately, "Lucia" was left off Rhythm and Repose. But Hansard says he may rework the track for a later release, possibly an extended EP. Read the full story on Spinner.