Coming Jan. 31 to Wilmington
Jim Weider isn’t blind to how divided the United States feels these days. In fact, it inspired the title of his latest album, “World Gone Mad.”
If the album sounds reminiscent of tunes by the legendary rock outfit The Band, it should, since Weider played with the rockers from 1985 to 2000.
“World Gone Mad” was released in 2018 and is the most recent project by The Weight Band, a roots-rock quintet based in Woodstock, N.Y., The quintet formed in 2013 and includes former Band members Randy Ciarlante and Levon Helm. Its five members share vocals.
Weider and The Weight Band, which formed in 2013, will tip the scale, dropping some heavy jams on the Baby Grand in Wilmington on Jan. 31.
Woodstock native Weider dished on attending the famous Woodstock music festival (50 years ago in August), why he feels Woodstock ‘94 should get more attention, and the mindset behind creating “World Gone Mad.”
What was it like transitioning into The Band in the mid-’80s?
It was great. We brought it back to the original members. There was Richard Manuel, me, Garth [Hudson], Rick [Danko] and Levon. When they hired me, they wanted to make it a five-piece group in ‘85. They were really happy and I was ecstatic to be in a band I grew up listening to that was a big influence on me in my hometown. It was such an opportunity for me and I went all over the world with them.
What’s a special moment that stands out from those days?
I stayed with them longer than [guitarist] Robbie Robertson. I did the hard time. What stood out is we did Bob Dylan’s birthday bash with everyone at Madison Square Garden. We did “The Wall” with Roger Waters, Carnegie Hall several times and Woodstock ‘94 was amazing. That was one of the last great festivals.
Woodstock ‘94 doesn’t get a lot of attention.
It should, because you had everybody from Dylan to Traffic, Santana, The Band and endless great acts. These were acts that changed the world in music. Then after that, Woodstock ‘99 was a bad vibe. The music was different. It didn’t go over well.
Remind us, what happened with the ‘99 festival?
[The organizers] got greedy. They were charging $8 for a bottle of water and it was 110 degrees on blacktop pavement, apparently. There were fires. There were kind of rough rap groups there; it got violent. It wasn’t a good vibe. ‘94 was great, I’ll leave it at that.
Did you attend the first Woodstock?
I was there. I saw The Band and all the great groups. It was mind boggling. These were fantastic groups that made rock history and changed the world with their music and lyrics, with The Band being one of the top ones.
How would you describe your latest album?
We’re playing classic Band tunes and I wanted some new songs to sound like The Band. We play like The Band regardless, because of all the years I spent with them and Brian Mitchell. I wanted the record to sound like a Band record now, in the present. I really think we’ve accomplished that, because we wanted the songs to blend right in with the classic tunes so people wouldn’t be like, “Oh my God, they sound like The Lumineers performing ‘Ophelia” or something.”
I wanted these songs to sound as raw and roots rock ‘n’ roll as The Band, so it took a while to write the right songs. Some of them, as you noticed, were some tunes I’d co-written with Levon Helm and updated, with “Common Man” being one of them. I wrote a bridge for it and updated it a little bit. It’s the same thing with Brian Mitchell doing “You’re Never Too Late to Rock ‘n Roll.” He updated the lyrics, but that’s a song I wrote with Levon and Joe Flood, way back in the ‘90s for the “Jericho” album.
How did the legacy of the first festival become so legendary?
There was a camaraderie among the people, peacefulness and sharing. The youth back then was bonded together. It wasn’t violent. Nobody back then was shooting anybody. There was a million people there helping each other out. If anyone needed some water, they got it, And food. There was a bonding -- which I hope gets repeated in history again -- that the musicians and fans had. We all felt like we were in a movement.
The movement was a peaceful one and I wish that kind of vibe would come back again, because the world is kind of a crazy place right now. That’s why I wrote “World Gone Mad.” We need more of those [Woodstock] feelings. We need the young people to speak up. It’s up to the young people to change the world now and their music should reflect that change.