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The Band to be saluted at March 25 Wild Honey Orchestra autism benefit

The Band to be saluted at March 25 Wild Honey Orchestra autism benefit
The Band's Garth Hudson, left, shown circa 1969 with band mates Levon Helm, Richard Manuel, Robbie Robertson and Rick Danko, will be joined March 25 in Glendale by more than two dozen musicians during a salute to the group benefiting the Autism Think Tank. (Los Angeles Times)

L.A.'s ad hoc Wild Honey Orchestra will expand its musical vocabulary for its next Autism Think Tank benefit show, moving beyond the catalogs of the Beach Boys and the Beatles that have been the focus of recent shows to salute yet another classic-rock outfit whose name starts with "B": The Band.

The March 25 show at the Alex Theatre in Glendale also will feature one of the original members of the group being honored: the Band's keyboardist-saxophonist-accordionist Garth Hudson.

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He'll be joined by Jackson Browne, Van Dyke Parks, Peter Case, Don Was, Steve Wynn, Victoria Williams, Syd Straw, Vicki Peterson, Sister Maud (Hudson's wife) and two dozen other mostly L.A.-based musicians in performing the Band's first two critically acclaimed albums, 1968's "Music From Big Pink" and 1969's "The Band" in their entirety.

They included such career-establishing songs as "Up on Cripple Creek," "The Weight," "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" and "Tears of Rage." Participants are planning to go beyond those two albums with additional songs from the Band's catalog such as "Stage Fright" and "The Shape I'm In."

Those two albums established the Band — Levon Helm, Robbie Robertson, Richard Manuel, Rick Danko and Hudson — as one of the most respected ensembles of the rock era and helped create the template for what would come to be known decades later as Americana music, a rootsy blend of country, folk, gospel, bluegrass, soul and R&B.

Organizer Paul Rock has assembled Wild Honey benefit shows on and off since 1994, with proceeds going to a variety of beneficiaries over the years. The focus in the last decade has been on the Autism Think Tank, in part because of Rock's experience raising a son with autism, Jake, who is now 13.

The Wild Honey Orchestra will be led once again by musical director Rob Laufer, who also shepherded Beatles producer George Martin's tribute to the Fab Four's "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" album in 2007 at the Hollywood Bowl.

Information and tickets are available at the Wild Honey Foundation's Facebook page.

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UPDATES:

March 6, 9:00 p.m.: This post has been updated to include two more additions to the lineup: composer and multi-instrumentalist Van Dyke Parks and Garth Hudson's wife, singer Sister Maud.

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