Seven Great Max Creek Shows To Listen To Ahead of Their Levon Helm Studio Shows

Article Contributed by Miles Hurley | Published on Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Since its inception as the location of the intimately legendary Midnight Rambles, Levon Helm Studios, named of course after its namesake owner, has been a bucket list spot for artists to play. As such, the Woodstock, NY home has seen many awesome bands come through to make pilgrimages and performances. 2021 alone has seen a stellar lineup of artists play here, like Iron and Wine, Umphrey’s McGee, Midnight North, Jorma Kaukonen, and many more.

This weekend, one of the most righteous rock bands of all time, Max Creek, will be joining them when they perform at the barn on Friday December 3rd and Saturday December 4th.

For those unfamiliar, Max Creek, who actually made their debut at the barn back in 2019, has been going strong for just about fifty years. They’re one of the bands that inspired Phish and Widespread Panic to go out and do their thing (we’re not kidding, ask Mike Gordon if you ever run into him out there on the scene). And in fifty years they’ve done a whole lot of live jamming.

Thanks to Creek’s incredibly loyal and resourceful fanbase, a huge amount of that live jamming is available across the internet in a vast collection of tapes, video footage, and more.

Whether you want some recommendations as a new listener, or just some help to get hyped for what should be a very special two-night run this weekend, here are ten picks for Max Creek shows that show this one of a kind band at its best.

Creek Is The Band: May 1991

For two back to back nights at Levon Helm’s barn, Creek is sure to crank out some choice Band covers—something they’ve had a lot of experience with already. Creek has paid ample respect to The Band across their nearly fifty year career, and what more appropriate way to get ready for this weekend than to dive into some of Creek’s best Band jams of the past? So much to choose from, but this extra bouncy “Ophelia” from January 2011 is a good place to start!

One Time, At Camp Creek….May 2004

This isn’t really a hot take: Camp Creek is where some of Max Creek’s most memorable shows have taken place year after year. Alternatively called Strangecreek, Max Creek-hosted festival has been a beloved and respected niche of the jam scene across the last few decades, and you better believe Creek are always throwing down the hardest performances at their own shindig. This high energy show from Camp Creek 2004 has a bunch of stellar moments.

Classic Creek: October 1998

One rad thing about Max Creek is the vast amount of truly old school recordings in their vault. Say you’re a youngling Creek fan and you to really experience the feeling of listening a show as if it were coming from your cassette deck. This October 1998 show from the one and only Higher Ground in Burlington, VT should do the trick! Plus the show is a recommended listen anyways for its several hard hitting jams.

Recent Creek: November 2021

Max Creek will be coming into this weekend on the heels of some fantastic shows already delivered in 2021. Recently, the band performed two nights at Infinity Hall in Hartford—and brought some funky friends in West End Blend horns Mike Bafundo on trumpet and John Mundy on trombone. The entirety of the two nights with these special guests was stellar, but for one hot segment, check out the “Cruel World” —> “Be Myself.”

Creek At The Office: December 2009

Tragically, Max Creek will not be hosting one of their most beloved yearly traditions, the Office Party. Held in the intimate, hole-in-the-wall joint Hoops-n-Hops in Simsbury, CT, Creek “office parties” have always been a super fun night of holiday theme jams, special acoustic performances, and all around zaniness. Take a listen to this beautiful board from Christmas time 2009 for a great example.

Heartbreak Creek: September 1994

These days, it’s called The Strand. But back in the day, it was called Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel. And back in the day, Lupo’s was THE place to catch a prime Creek show. Okay, you could say that about a lot of places, Toad’s Place, Woody’s Roadhouse, Walter Street….but Lupo’s definitely felt like a proper home for this eastern Mass jamband. 1994 saw the band play there a ton of times, and they’re all great shows. This one opens up with a beautiful, jam-heavy combo of “Emerald Eyes” -> “In The Midnight Hour.”

Baby Creek: Halloween 1982

Some more beautifully aged Creek. This isn’t by near or far the oldest Max Creek show available on the internet, but its way back there—1982, Halloween. This is a good one. Lots of covers, but lots of Creek originals in their early state, and they’re all ripped pretty hard at this crazy high energy show at The Mason Jar in Rochester.