Sounds Local: ‘The Last Waltz’ revisited
Rev Tor Band and Music in Common are joining forces to re-create The Band’s classic concert film, “The Last Waltz,” live at Memorial Hall in Shelburne Falls. Friday, May 9 at 7:30 p.m. The concert features renditions of all the hits by the Band featured in the film such as “The Weight,” “Up On Cripple Creek,” and “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” as well as songs by bob Dylan, Neil Young, Eric Clapton and many more. See listing on this page for full details of the area musicians in the lineup. Tickets: $27 in advance, $32 day of show. www.musicincommon.org/tickets.
Seth Glier returns to perform at Greenfield Energy Park Sunday
Singer-songwriter Seth Glier, a Shelburne Falls native, will take to The Station stage at the Energy Park on Miles Street in Greenfield on Sunday, Aug. 11, at 6 p.m. This show is the final show in the “Sundays in the Park” summer series. According to Glier, the last time he played the Energy Park he was 16 and had just released his first album, “Why.”
Glier, 24, released his fifth album, “Things I Should Let You Know,” in January. The disc has won wide acclaim, with critics praising his memorable lyrics, supple, emotive voice and irresistible pop melodies.
After hearing the verdict of the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman trial, Glier was recently moved to write a new song called “Dead in the Streets.”
“Personally, the best way I know how to cope is by writing songs,” he wrote on his website. “ I decided to write this song from the perspective of George Zimmerman, my intention is one of healing and moving forward.”
The video of Glier performing the song can be viewed at www.sethglier.com or at www.youtube.com
Joining Glier for the Energy Park show will be local musician Joe Nerney on vocals, saxophone, piano and recorder. Nerney, 61, has been accompanying Glier on his tour in support of the new album. Despite their different musical backgrounds (Nerney has worked with rock cover bands and with John Sheldon’s Blue Streak) and the big age difference between the two, they have forged a strong musical partnership. So don’t miss out on what promises to be a special evening of music.
For more information, or in the event of a weather cancellation, please call the Greenfield Recreation Department at 413-772-1553. $10 suggested donation at the gate.
Jay Driscoll of Barefoot Truth
Jenny Goodspeed of The Boxcar Lilies
Steve Sanderson of The Drunk Stuntmen
Andy Wrba of Barefoot Truth
Tod Mack of The Rev Tor Band.
THE ROADHOUSE REUNION TOUR, a concert featuring The Spampinato Brothers, Joey and Johnny, who once formed half of the legendary NRBQ; The Commander Cody Band, one of the first American bands to fuse rock ’n’ roll, R & B, western swing and rockabilly and whose hits include “Hot Rod Lincoln” and “Smoke Smoke Smoke (That Cigarette)”; and our very own Ray Mason (pictured). Saturday, 7:30 p.m. Academy of Music, 274 Main St., Northampton. Tickets, $39, $32, $24. 584-9032 or online at www.academyofmusictheatre.com.
Saxophonist Charles Neville.
Recorder file photo/Geoff Bluh
Memorial Day Weekend Extravadance
The Guiding Star Grange in Greenfield hosts contradances weekly, but this Saturday organizers are going all out with two bands and dancing from 6:30 p.m. to midnight. Polish up your dancing shoes, you’ll need them! See “Dance.”
THE ARTS BLOCK, 289 Main St., Greenfield: Saturday, 8 p.m. Jazz + Plus with Juke Joint Jazz and Ed Byrne and Eastern Standard Time. Also, Headband (reggae) from 10:30 till 12:30 a.m. An evening of great local music. First Saturday of the month at the Arts Block. A set of different material each month. A 21st-century chamber jazz performance. $7, $10. www.theartsblock.com, 774-1050.
It begins with a horn section playing “Dixie,” then the camera turns to Levon Helm as he pounds on the drums while launching into the lyrics “Virgil Caine is the name/And I served on the Dansville train.” The focus remains on Helm until the chorus kicks in. Then we see his band mates: guitarist Robbie Robertson and bassist Rick Danko joining their voices with Helm to sing “The night they drove old Dixie down/And the bells were ringing.” It is a memorable moment — one of many — from the film, “The Last Waltz,” Martin Scorsese’s celebrated documentary of the final 1976 concert by the influential rock group The Band.
Scorsese’s film is considered one of the finest rock concert films ever made. The esteemed director beautifully captured The Band making music history as it played classic songs like “The Weight” and “Up on Cripple Creek.” It was joined by a host of special guests, including Neil Young, Eric Clapton, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison and many others.
“The Last Waltz” has stood the test of time as interest in The Band and the film remain strong.
The Rev Tor Band, a jam-rock band from the Berkshires, and the organization Music in Common have joined forces to bring a re-creation of the legendary “The Last Waltz” concert to Memorial Hall in Shelburne Falls on Saturday, March 30, at 7:30 p.m.
The Rev Tor Band will play all of The Band’s hits that are featured in the movie, while some of our finest local musicians will perform the material of the many guest players featured in the film.
The lineup includes The Nields with Dave Chalfant, Charles Neville, Jay Driscoll and Andy Wrba of Barefoot Truth, Jenny Goodspeed of the Boxcar Lilies, Seth Glier, “The Voice” finalist Michelle Brooks-Thompson, Bruce Mandaro, Steve Sanderson of The Drunk Stuntmen, Joshua Platt, Aidan O’Brien of Paint, Dave Boatwright of The Equalites, Jim Armenti, Ray Mason, Jeff Martell, Tommy Filiault, Phil Simon, Todd Mack, Christa Joy, Tory Hanna, and Steve Bilodeau of Longview Gun Slingers.
The idea for the show came about last April when Levon Helm passed away. Tor Krautter, like many other musicians, cites The Band as a major influence on his own music. “ We decide a great way to pay tribute to Levon would be to re-create ‘The Last Waltz’ and get some of our friends to help out on the guest parts,” said Krautter who has long included cover songs by The Band into Rev Tor’s own sets.
Music in Common
A “The Last Waltz” concert was held at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield last May and proved a huge success. Mack, a musician who played the Neil Diamond part at the Pittsfield show, was extremely moved by the experience and found it similar to shows he had produced for Music in Common, a nonprofit organization based in Sheffield.
Mack founded Music in Common in 2005 as way to pay tribute to his close friend and former band mate, slain journalist Daniel Pearl. Music in Common’s goal is to strengthen, empower and educate communities through the universal power of music by hosting concerts, multi-media productions and school programs throughout the world.
“In a nutshell, it is about using music as a way to build community,” said Mack. “We go all over, although our focus is in the Middle East, specifically Israel and the West Bank. We do a combination of programs and one thing we do is FODfest (Friends of Daniel) shows, which are free community concerts that bring together diverse groups of people.”
Mack was struck by how much “The Last Waltz” concert had the same spirit as a FODfest show.
“All of musicians are from the local music scene, but they don’t necessarily all know each other,” Mack explained. “When they meet at this concert, this community vibe is created. It reminded me of a FODfest show, except this show had the greatest soundtrack in the history of rock ’n’ roll, which is ‘The Last Waltz.’”
Realizing that something special was going on, Mack approached Krautter about taking “The Last Waltz” on the road and using local musicians from the communities they would visit to fill the slots of the guest artists in the film. Krautter liked the idea and knew from the start that he wanted the concerts to be benefit shows.
“I stepped in and pitched the idea of the shows benefitting Music in Common,” said Mack, who will also be performing at the Memorial Hall show. “Tor was totally supportive and felt what we do would resonate with both musicians and music lovers.”
So, with Mack as producer and Krautter as musical director, they have done three shows so far and they have all been a success, drawing between 300 to 600 people.
“As soon as we decided we were going to take this on the road, the Pioneer Valley was on our radar,” said Krautter. “My band has played there many times (they are regulars at the biannual Wormtown-produced festivals held in Greenfield) and Memorial Hall is a great room.”
“We did a lot of research and we knew who we wanted some of the bigger names like Charles Neville and The Nields — and we got them,” added Krautter, who jokingly calls himself a music wrangler.
The musicians usually do not choose the song that they will perform, instead, that job goes to Krautter.
Ray Mason to play Dylan
“There are some formulas that go with this,” Krautter explained. “For instance, we always try and find out who might be the area’s guitar slinger, so we will ask them to do the Eric Clapton tune. Then we try and find out who the Granddaddy of the scene is, and we ask them to do the Bob Dylan scene at the end. In this case there was no question that it had to be Ray Mason.”
“I was extremely flattered that Tor asked me to take part in the ‘Last Waltz Live’ and to sing the Dylan songs, too! I’ve always loved The Band. They’ve been a huge influence on me and are among my three all-time favorite groups, along with the Beatles and NRBQ,” Mason said.
Mason may be the granddaddy of the scene, but at the age of 29, Jay Driscoll of Barefoot Truth was not even born when “The Last Waltz” took place. He is, however, a huge fan of The Band and, like Mason, said he is honored to be a part of this show.
“When I was 18, my best friend’s dad said to me: ‘You aren’t a real musician if you’re not a fan of The Band!’ I said ‘Which band?!’ said Driscoll. “After he enlightened me, I went right to Turn It Up and bought ‘The Last Waltz’ DVD. Their music has had a huge influence on me as a musician ever since.”
While we have let it slip that Mason will be singing the Dylan music, one of the ideas behind the show is that the audience does not know beforehand what songs the guest musicians will be performing.
“Part of the fun of the show is that folks want to see who is going to do what song,” said Krautter. “It is a big part of the anticipation, especially if they know the film, waiting to see who comes on next.”
(I did convince Krautter to spill the beans on who was performing as Neil Diamond — and while I’ll remain mum on the subject, I was very surprised at the choice.)
Unlike a lot of tribute shows, these musicians are not expected to duplicate the look of the artist they are emulating.
Be true to the song
“We make it clear we are not looking for an impersonation,” said Krautter. “We try to be true to the song and be true to the film, and play it in the exact order. We also aren’t gender specific, either. Whoever we think would be great for a specific song is who we invited to do it.”
Well, if that doesn’t pique your curiosity, I don’t know what will. It will be fun to see who takes on Neil Young’s “Helpless” or Van Morrison’s “Caravan” or all the countless classic songs that are a part of “The Last Waltz.” And it goes without saying that you don’t have to be familiar with the film to enjoy the show. If you are even a casual music fan, you certainly know most of this music.
As for the show’s organizers, they are hoping this show is one of many more to come.
“It’s a perfect confluence — ‘The Last Waltz’ and the music of The Band. Plus there are 35 musicians on the bill, most of whom are local. So you put all that together and you are bound to have a good turnout and a good time,” said Mack.
“People enjoy this show and we are having a blast with it,” added Krautter. “It’s very fulfilling for us as musicians and we get to meet and connect with all these other musicians. We always say a ‘thank you’ for letting us into your music scene for one night.”
Memorial Hall is located at 51 Bridge St. in Shelburne Falls. This is an all-ages show.
Tickets are $25 and available at www.lastwaltzlive.org until the end of the day on March 29. Tickets at the door are $30. While cash or check is the preferred method of payment, credit cards will be accepted. All seating is general admission. Doors open at
7 p.m. For more information on Music in Common, visit www.musicincommon.org.
Sheryl Hunter is a music writer who lives in Easthampton. Her work has appeared in various regional and national magazines. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org