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Levon Helm pounds pavement behind 'Electric Dirt'

Six months after doctors found a lesion on his vocal cords, Levon Helm has returned to the road, plotting a spring and summer schedule in support of last summer's "Electric Dirt."

Helm and his band continue the in-progress outing Friday (4/30) with a show in Westhampton, NY. The 30-date trek includes a handful of "Midnight Ramble" performances, which take place at Helm's studio in Woodstock, NY. The road trip, which mixes theater gigs with festival appearances, runs through an Aug. 15 set at Los Angeles' Greek Theatre. The full schedule is shown at right.

The multi-instrumentalist released "Electric Dirt" last June. The 12-track album earned Helm a Grammy Award for Best Americana Album, a category that was added to the roster this year.

In 2007, Helm unveiled "Dirt Farmer," which won a Grammy for Best Traditional Folk Album. Both sets were recorded at the musician's personal studio in Woodstock, NY.

"We knew we couldn't just remake 'Dirt Farmer,' it had to be something different," guitarist Larry Campbell said of the latest album at Helm's website. "We wanted to get closer to what we do in the live shows, but not depart too far from that organic thing. Given all that, it was difficult coming up with an actual concept, but as the tunes were collected, it started to present itself."

This marks Helm's first extensive road trip since last fall, when Helm's doctor discovered a lesion on his vocal cords and prescribed vocal rest for the performer. A biopsy of the lesion, which was removed by laser, revealed no cancer.

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