LoveforLevon.comA bevy of musical luminaries will come together October 3 at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey, for the Love for Levon concert, a benefit event honoring late Band singer/drummer Levon Helm. Confirmed performers on the bill include, Gregg Allman, Allman Brothers Band guitarist Warren Haynes, Joe Walsh, founding Jefferson Airplane guitarist Jorma Kaukonen and gospel & R&B legend Mavis Staples.
In addition to paying tribute to Helm and his music, the show will raise money to help his family maintain ownership of his barn and studios in Woodstock, New York, where his backing group has been continuing to host the intimate Midnight Ramble sessions he helped launch several years ago.
Haynes and Staples recently chatted with ABC News Radio about their own love for Levon, their experiences at the Midnight Rambles and their participation in the benefit concert.
Haynes says his appreciation of Helm as an artist dates back to his teenage years, when he first was introduced to The Band. Commenting on the enduring quality of the group's music, he notes, "When I listen to it now, I enjoy it more than I did when I first fell in love with it."
The guitarist went on develop a close relationship with Helm, performing at several Midnight Rambles and playing quite a few other events with him. "[Levon] was just always engaging, even if he met someone for the first time," Haynes shares. "He made people feel special as soon as he opened his mouth in conversation."
Haynes also expresses his admiration for Helm's vocal abilities. "Levon's voice, I've always maintained, was the voice of Americana," he notes. "It's country. It's rock 'n' roll. It's blues, but it's uniquely him…And, he didn't strive or aspire to be a great singer, but he was a great singer."
In addition, Haynes has plenty of praise for Helm's Midnight Ramble concerts, which take place at the Helm family's Woodstock residence and feature a variety of guest artists. "It was just such a comfortable vibe, a very unpretentious, albeit beautiful vibe," he explains. "People got an insight to his home and where he lived and how he lived…The ***** that I was there were just such a blast, you know. When it was over, you didn't want it to be over."
As for what ***** be performing at the benefit show, Haynes says he isn't sure yet, but reveals he likely will be playing alongside his band mate Gregg Allman.
Staples, meanwhile, had a decades-long friendship with Helm, and is godmother to his daughter, Amy. She famously appeared in The Band's classic concert film, The Last Waltz, in which her family group, The Staple Singers, were featured singing "The Weight" with the roots-rock legends.
Mavis tells ABC News Radio that she was glad that she was able to play one of Helm's Midnight Rambles before he passed away.
"Levon would [go], 'Mavis, you all gotta get here…I want you to see my barn.' I said, 'OK, Levon,'" she recalls. "And it just happened we got a chance to go, back in [June of 2011], and I was so grateful...It's just awesome. I couldn't believe what I was seeing when I walked in there."
With regard to the benefit concert, Staples says, "I'm just grateful that we're doing this for him…You know, everyone loved him and if it takes another concert like this to save the barn, we'll do it."
Tickets for Love for Leon are on sale now via Ticketmaster and at The Barn box office. For more information, head to LoveforLevon.com.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio