Don't call The Weight a tribute band
PITTSFIELD — Jim Weider, lead guitarist for The Weight, was firm in his assertion: His band is not a tribute band, playing the songs of that legendary group.
"I was the guitarist for The Band longer than [original Band guitarist Robbie] Robertson was," said Weider.
Weider and drummer Randy Ciarlante were members of the reincarnated Band from 1985 until its dissolution in 2000. Fellow members Brian Mitchell and Brian Isaacs are former members of the Richard Manuel Band and Marty Grebb played in the Rick Danko Band.
"We all have a connection [to The Band]," said Weider in a phone interview from his home in Woodstock, N.Y. "I've known Levon Helm for more than 45 years."
Weider met Helm in the late 1960s, when the original Band was headquartered in Woodstock.
"I worked in an upscale stereo store in those days," said Weider. "Levon and Garth Hudson would stop by and smoke cigarettes and listen to records.
"I remember one day hearing this otherworldly organ and just thinking, 'What is that? That sound is amazing,'" Weider recalled. "It was Garth playing the into to 'Chest Fever' on 'Music From Big Pink.' I was hooked.
"The music is so strong," said Weider. "And it was so different from anything we'd heard at the time. We were listening to Cream, and Jimi Hendrix and Motown. And this was this folk-blues-rock and roll blend. It was striking to me."
Audiences in Pittsfield will hear a number of chestnuts, such as "The Weight," "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" and "Stage Fright" when The Weight plays The Colonial Theatre at 8 p.m. on Thursday. But for Weider and his fellow band member, it's pulling rare tracks up and playing them.
"The catalog is just so rich," he said. "I really enjoyed going through all the old albums and learning songs like "The Rumor" or "Look Out Cleveland."
Weider said the set list will be made up of Band songs, including some he wrote when he played with the group.
"It's so cool to be doing these tunes," he said. "We wanted to keep the legacy of The Band alive."
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