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CD Review: Levon Helm's Electric Dirt 

The Deal: Dirt Farmer follow-up shows Levon Helm in fine form.

The Good: Sounding like the ruler of hillbilly heaven, Levon Helm's latest recalls The Band in its heyday. Bristling with energy and twang, Electric Dirt is a tall-boy can of whup ass. You'll be wanting to take your Grateful Dead records and throw 'em in the fire after you hear Levon sing "Tennessee Jed." Muddy's "Stuff You Gotta Watch" is a redneck rebel-rouser with a Cajun feel. Levon's vocals have never sounded better. His harmonies with daughter Amy and Ramble vocalist Teresa Williams on "White Dove" are pure Appalachia. Randy Newman's ode to Louisiana governor and self-described friend of the working man Huey Long gets resurrected in fine cracker style. "Who looks after shit-kickers like you?" Levon asks in his down-home drawl. The shit kicker vibe continues with Levon's backwoodsy cover of Muddy's "You Cant Lose What You Ain't Never Had." If you were fortunate enough to see Levon at Merlefest two years ago, you know that his backing band The Midnight Ramble showcases Levon's talents as well as the Band ever did.

The Bad: That we had to wait two years for new product unless you count the limited live release of the Merlefest set on FestivaLink.net.

The Verdict: Welcome back Levon. Keep 'em coming.

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  • On Saturday, Oct. 21, hundreds gathered at Camp North End on Statesville Avenue for Charlotte's first black alternative music festival. We captured some of the bands in action on stage, but mostly we surveyed the grounds as fans, families, vendors and more lounged around the sprawling, colorful Camp North End site. It was a great day of music, food, fun, and sweet, autumn sunshine. (Photos by Mark Kemp)
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