On February 23, Woodstock-based artists The Weight Band will release their first full-length studio album World Gone Mad featuring original tracks, guest vocals and slide guitar from Jackie Greene on a cover of a Jerry Garcia-Robert Hunter song, and writing contributions from the late Levon Helm on previously unreleased songs.
The Weight Band originated inside the famed Woodstock, NY barn of Levon Helm, when Jim Weider (guitar, mandolin and vocals) and Randy Ciarlante (drums and vocals)—both former members of The Band—were performing “Songs of The Band” with Garth Hudson, Jimmy Vivino and Byron Isaacs, now a bassist and vocalist with The Lumineers. Weider, Ciarlante and Isaacs began to carry on the tradition of performing songs from The Band, inviting Brian Mitchell (keyboards and vocals) and Marty Grebb (keyboards, saxophone and vocals) to complete their sound. The Weight Band later added Albert Rogers (bass and vocals) and Michael Bram (drums and vocals) to complete their current lineup, alongside Weider, Mitchell and Grebb.
The Weight Band recorded World Gone Mad in Clubhouse Studio in Rhinebeck, NY. A rustic American musical tradition can be heard throughout the album’s songs, whose lyrics reflect stories of love, humor, and personal journeys. World Gone Mad shines bright during moments like the title track, a powerful glance at the current national mood. The band’s growing concern over the divisiveness of today’s political climate and the hardship of life in America is revealed on “Common Man” and “Fire in the Hole.” The album creates a new soundtrack for a generation of music fans raised on songs from American music titans such as The Band and the Dead.
As a complete project, World Gone Mad salutes a sometimes-overlooked, immensely rich musical style best described as the “Woodstock sound.” Over the next several weeks, a series of videos on The Weight Band, and the new album, will be released.
World Gone Mad also honors the great Levon Helm, who is credited as co-writing two never released songs on the album, “You’re Never Too Old (To Rock N Roll)” and “Common Man.” Weider replaced Robbie Robertson as a member of The Band in 1985, reuniting them back to a five-piece group. Weider toured internationally with Helm, as well as with Garth Hudson and Rick Danko, for fifteen years. He and Brian Mitchell are also current members of Levon Helm’s Midnight Ramble Band. Marty Grebb, a former member of the Buckinghams who has performed with Leon Russell, Bonnie Raitt, and countless others, contributed to both The Band’s Jericho and Jubilation albums.
World Gone Mad also features former Band and Weight Band member Randy Ciarlante on two tracks, “I Wish You Were Here Tonight” (drums) and “Big Legged Sadie” (drums and background vocals.) The album is capped off by a live version of The Band song, “Remedy,” co-written by Jim Weider and originally included on The Band album Jericho.
Today, you can enjoy the first release “Common Man” below:
World Gone Mad will be available as a CD and digitally–including on SoundCloud—in February 2018. The album cover was designed by John Halpern (The Eagles, OutKast) with graphics by Larry Freemantle (Kid Rock.) Stay up to date with their Soundcloud here.