I have had the opportunity to see Levon Helm twice within the last few years. We were happy that he came to Minneapolis, as he mostly does concerts at his barn in Woodstock, NY. These shows are very popular and are known as the Midnight Ramble and are well attended by fans from all over the world.
Jim Weider has been the guitarist for both of these shows and it was great to see him perform.
Jim Weider is one of those unknown greats of guitar.When he performs with Levon, he mostly stays in the background, playing mostly acoustic and his Telecaster, taking few solos. On his own he branches out and really shows what he can do with a guitar.
Jim became known when, in 1985, he joined the reformed The Band, replacing Robbie Robertson. He worked with Richard Manuel, as well, when Richard performed as a solo act.
Jim grew up in Woodstock, New York, which has long been a popular area for musicians and artists to live. Born in 1951, he was influenced by the early rock and roll guitar players of the 50s – Chuck Berry, James Burton and Scotty Moore. This trio helped set the standard for guitarists, influencing countless young kids around the world.
As a teen in Woodstock, he became friends with Levon, who has lived there for many years. Weider moved on to Nashville and Atlanta, working as a session player and in local bands.
When Levon was restarting The Band without Robertson, he asked Jim to join as the new guitarist.
Jim remained in The Band until 1999, following the death of Rick Danko.
During his time with The Band, he played on all of their albums and was featured on many videos, including a performance with Roger Waters “The Wall” filmed at the Berlin Wall, tv specials, and at Bill Clinton's inaugural Ball in 1993. Weider has appeared on Leno, Conan, Letterman, and Today Show as a member of The Band.
In addition to The Band, Jim has recorded with artists such as Scotty Moore, Keith Richards, Los Lobos, Taj Mahal, Hot Tuna and many others, and in 2005 won the W.C. Handy Award for co- writing Mavis Staples' hit single and CD title song Have a Little Faith.
Jim performs as a solo artist, as well, releasing a critically acclaimed solo CD calledBig Foot. Vintage Guitar Magazine stated: "Big Foot is the highest-quality recording we've heard in a very long time. Any guitar purist will be impressed with Weider's varied styles -- rock, rockabilly, slide, good old blues, and even some 'chicken-pickin' country. This is a celebration of guitar at its best.”
Jim's CD, Percolator showcases the heavier side of his playing. I downloaded a few of his live shows from the Internet Archive. The songs are in the rock-jazz fusion style, and are much different than his other releases, full of top-notch playing from everyone in the band. As I watch the videos of Percolater on Youtube, it just reinforces my opinion that the Fender Telecaster is the most versatile guitar made. Leo Fender got it right on the first try with this guitar!
Jim uses a vintage Fender Telecaster as his main guitar, but he also plays a1960s Silvertone electric guitar and a 1960s Guild Starfire III. He uses a Fender amplifiers and his own signature series JW40 amp, designed in conjunction with Fargen Amplification, Inc. He co-designed the AnalogMan King Of Tone pedal.
Check out Jim’s work with The Band, his own band and with the many artists he has worked with. You will discover an amazing musician who is a true original, and has much to say with his guitar.