The Weight

The Weight

Phil Mansfield

Although possessing one of the most anonymous names ever, the Band continues to be among the influential rock acts of the past half century.

Long after the original group fell apart, the songs of Robbie Robertson, Levon Helm, Rick Danko, Garth Hudson and Richard Manuel still resonate with power and passion to spare.

Four of the five members sang magnificently, and the guy who didn't sing, Robertson, wrote most of the songs.

Acts as diverse as Ryan Adams, Wilco, Zac Brown and even Taylor Swift all bear the influence of the Band.

The Weight (featuring former members of The Band, Levon Helm Band and Rick Danko Group)

Sadly, Helm died in 2012, leaving Robertson and Hudson as the only surviving original members.

Perhaps that's why there's the need for the Weight, a Band tribute outfit made up of musicians closely associated with the original group's latter days and a few members' solo ventures.

Although their names might not be immediately familiar, the members of the Weight (especially guitarist Jim Weider and keyboardist Marty Grebb) have the pedigree and the talent necessary to duplicate the fascinatingly original sound of the Band.

Anticipating the Weight performing at the Kessler Theater on Thurday, we've collected a suggested setlist of songs that the tribute group must perform to do justice to the greatness that was the Band.

'Up on Cripple Creek,' 'The Weight,' and 'The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down' 

Let's just get the big three out of the way, because no self-respecting tribute to the Band can get by without them. Amazingly, despite years of airplay on countless radio stations, all three tunes still remain fresh and vital.

'Chest Fever'

Beginning with Garth Hudson's epic organ intro and then transitioning into one of the funkiest items in the Band's repertoire, "Chest Fever" is a song that defies easy categorization. Unlike anything else in the Band's catalog, the song holds an almost heavenly beauty.

'When I Paint My Masterpiece'

One of many Bob Dylan songs recorded by the Band, "Masterpiece" featured one of Levon Helm's most affecting vocal performances. The hayseed tone is also quite different from anything Dylan probably envisioned, and that's partly what made the Band's version so special.

'Tears of Rage'

Richard Manuel's vocal performance on this song, co-written with Dylan, is considered one of the landmarks in the Band's rich legacy.

An aching ode to family and the bitter urgency of regret, remorse and betrayal, "Tears of Rage" is a difficult song to cover. Hearing the Weight attempt it should be a point of interest for fans at the Kessler.

'Lonesome Suzie,' 'This Wheel's on Fire,' 'I Shall Be Released'

Any tribute to the Band should cover the entirety of Music From Big Pink, the momentous debut album from 1968.

From the audacious cover painted by Dylan to the roughhewn harmonies that proved hugely influential, Big Pink introduced a group to be reckoned with, a band worthy of proper tribute.

Darryl Smyers is a Dallas freelance writer.

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