Garth Hudson

Garth Hudson

Garth Hudson

The Sea To The North

Breeze Hill

One of the more delicious ironies of rock ‘n’ roll is that although Robbie Robertson fucked over his compadres in rock’s most mythical band of brothers, The Band, in order that he might take the lion’s share of of the spoils, fame and credits, now he’s some cubicledrone at Dreamworks. Meanwhile two of his erstwhile bandmates, Levon Helm and Garth Hudson, consummate musicians and artists, are now more feted than ever. Levon Helm with his raucous midnight rambles in Woodstock, New York, still inspires fervent pilgrimages and much firelit celebration and musicmaking. Fellow Woodstock resident and mad professor maestro of the band, the bearded and soft-spoken Garth Hudson has had an even more notable second, third, and fourth act.

In the Band he was the unassuming jack-of-all-trades, pouring his heart’n’soul out with saxophone, organs, keyboards and synths; check out the footage from the Last Waltz, he lunges at his huge organ like a backwoods Phantom of the Opera, rocking back and forth, wrenching out delicate melodies and otherworldly noise all at once. All these years later, his particular musical skills are very much in demand amongst a younger, bleeding-edge generation of musicians. He has recorded with the likes of Neko Case, the Secret Machines, Teddy Thompson and Heavy Trash. All are eager for the stately, ghostly, heartfelt sounds he crafted on classic albums like Music From Big Pink, flickering organ, roadhouse rough keys. And here, finally, we have his first solo album!

The music on The Sea To The North is the product of a restless mind and skilled hands. This is a sorta starry-eyed melding of Frank Zappa, Esquivel, Dr. John and the Stanley Brothers. Hudson handles a dizzying array of instruments on the album: piano, organs, synthesizers, melodica, accordion and several different varieties of saxophone. And yet he’s a servant of his songs, never does his playing become too showy. Songs veer wildly from genre to genre — Cajun zydeco gives way to quiet storm jazz to unhinged exotica to church music to sea shanties to ye olde rock. Aural collage done organically and live without laptops or sampling, all with a wintry feel. It’s a heady mix, but many times on the album the tunes just aren’t immediately there, even though the chops and joyful atmosphere are. The vocals too are muffled and not as strong as they should be. There needs to be the grounding of a strong voice, like a Richard Manuel or a Neko Case. Hudson’s sax playing is gorgeous though.

Not by any stretch of the imagination essential — that’s the problem of having such a rich legacy — but I’m still fucking glad that this album exists.

Garth Hudson:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Recently on Ink 19...

  • General Magic
    General Magic

    General Magic invented the smart phone in 2002, but just couldn’t get it to market. That’s just how they rolled.

  • Blue October
    Blue October

    Alternative 90s rockers Blue October rolled into Central Florida for a two-night run at House of Blues, and Michelle Wilson was blown away.

  • Pahokee

    Pahokee produces sugar cane and poverty, but some the brighter students might make it to the big time with a college degree and a new zip code.

  • Sumo Princess
    Sumo Princess

    When An Electric Storm. (Educational Recordings) Review by Bob Pomeroy.

  • Laura Valle
    Laura Valle

    Charismatic. Review by Stacey Zering.

  • Ramen Shop
    Ramen Shop

    A young man searches for the secrets of his family and great Ramen.

  • Southern Avenue
    Southern Avenue

    Keep On (Concord Records). Review by James Mann.

  • Don Felder
    Don Felder

    Don Felder took music fans down Eagles’ memory lane at Disney Epcot’s® Garden Rocks Concert Series, and Michelle Wilson loved every nostalgic moment of it.

  • Alfred Sergel IV
    Alfred Sergel IV

    Alfred Sergel IVtet (The Tam Tam Group). Review by Stacey Zering.

  • Tanika Charles
    Tanika Charles

    The Gumption (Record Kicks). Review by Bob Pomeroy.

From the Archives