The Weight Band keep The Band’s flame burning brightly while retaining their own originality.
The Weight Band has only been together for nine years but the members are long-standing members of the Americana community. Guitarist Jim Weider worked with The Band from 1985 to 2000, after Robbie Robertson left, and with Levon Helm’s Midnight Ramble Band before assembling the musicians who would form the loose configuration of The Weight Band in 2013. Appropriately the band got together under Weider’s direction in Helm’s massive but cozy studio in Woodstock, New York, The Barn. Weider also started the Camp Cripple Creek festival to celebrate The Band’s music and far-reaching influence. In other words, Weider’s qualifications for preserving The Band’s legacy are unimpeachable. He even plays a Telecaster.
Recorded live over the course of four days in 2020 at Clubhouse Studio in beautiful Rhinebeck, New York, which is about 17 miles away from Woodstock, ‘Shines Like Gold’ is a well-stocked dive into rugged, authentic roots rock. It was a laissez-faire production from Weider’s collaborator Colin Linden, who was in Nashville at the time. The love for The Band’s music and enduring ethic is also evident in keyboardist Brian Mitchell, bassist Albert Rogers, drummer Michael Bram, and keyboardist Matt Zeiner. Remarkably The Weight Band doesn’t sound like a tribute band, although they would be forgiven if they did. Mitchell also worked with Levon Helm’s Midnight Ramble Band and has all the right chops down. Bram comes admirably close to Helm’s signature drumming style.
‘The Weight of the World’ and ‘Time is a Thief’ are dry looks at the alarming state of the world and the feeling of time passing more quickly than anyone would like. They are both excellent examples of what Weider calls the “Woodstock mountain sound,” with ‘The Weight of the World’ displaying what an accomplished acoustic player can do with the time and space to hear himself play. ‘Out of the Wilderness,’ ‘Train is Never On Time,’ and first single ‘Shines Like Gold’ are soulful but infectious. The opening mandolin on ‘Out of the Wilderness’ alone should make anyone smile.
The album closes with a faithful cover of Willie Dixon’s timely ‘It Don’t Make Sense (If You Can’t Make Peace)’ from 1984, an interesting choice considering that the band recorded two years ago. It still captures the contradictions of modern progress. This warning doesn’t dim the hopefulness of the rest of the album. “Hard times are leaving, we’ve done enough grieving / Now we’ll shine like gold.”