Garth Hudson, fresh off an emotional concert tribute to the fallen voices of the Band, has begun work on a new musical project — and this one promises to be even more personal.
This new album from Hudson, multi-instrumentalist in the Band from 1965-1999, is being recorded in conjunction with his 75th birthday, said wife and long-time musical companion Sister Maud Hudson. He reached that milestone back in August. Sister Maud says Hudson, who is best known for his work on the organ, is still deciding on the musical context for the project.
“He is very mysterious about whether he will keep it 100 percent acoustic or utilize his modules with his sounds,” Sister Maud tells us. “Personally, I am thrilled to witness Mr. Hudson in a recording situation where he can play whatever he wants. We are terribly excited to begin documenting Garth Hudson during the year of his 75th birthday.”
Hudson’s 1989 induction into the Juno Hall of Fame was followed by similar recognition as a member of the Band in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. By then, the group had already lost original singer and keyboardist Richard Manuel. Bassist Rick Danko and then drummer Levon Helm — the other group’s other two voices — have also since passed, leaving only Hudson and Robbie Robertson from the original lineup.
Hudson joined Jimmy Vivino for a special “Songs of the Band” event in November, held at Pennsylvania’s Keswick Theatre in honor of the late trio. “We enjoyed the Keswick Theatre and their wonderful Moller Theatre organ,” Sister Maud says. “The people treated us well, and the audience was very special — inspiring and energetic.”
Hudson, who played on 10 studio albums with the Band, has been part of four solo projects — with all of them arriving since 2001. Our Lady Queen of the Angels, though issued in 2005, was actually recorded in 1980 as a multimedia program for the bicentennial of Los Angeles. He issued The Sea to the North in 2001, and Live at the Wolf with Sister Maud in 2005.
Hudson’s most recent studio effort was a multi-artist tribute on which he appeared with guests from the Great White North ranging from Neil Young to Bruce Cockburn, called Garth Hudson Presents: A Canadian Celebration of the Band.
He recorded a pair of albums in the early 2000s, Georgia Peach and The Whole Enchilada, with Burrito Deluxe — a group that included Sneaky Pete Kleinow, of Flying Burrito Brothers fame. Hudson has also appeared as a sideman with Bob Dylan (1974’s Planet Waves and 1975’s The Basement Tapes), Van Morrison (1978’s Wavelength), Leonard Cohen (1979’s Recent Songs), Roger Waters (1990’s The Wall: Live in Berlin) and Robertson (his 1987 self-titled release), among others.