By MIKE CHAIKEN
The Band was one of the most respected rock groups of their time. And when they decided to call it quits in 1976, they organized a Thanksgiving Day farewell concert at the Winterland in San Francisco and invited a few friends along for the swansong.
Those friends included such stellar talents as Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, and Muddy Waters.
The Band, which included Robbie Robertson, Levon Helm, Garth Hudson, Richard Manuel, and Rick Danko also pulled in filmmaker Martin Scorcese to capture the night on celluloid.
The result was what some consider one of the best concert films ever produced.
The music itself captured a certain point in time in rock history. And Connecticut music fans will be able to hear that music live Sunday when Music in Common and the Rev Tor Band present a live performance of the songs from the concert film at 7 p.m. at Bridge Street Live in Collinsville.
The concert will feature 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.”
Musicians from the local music scene perform the songs of the film’s original special guests. The full line-up of artists in Collinsville includes the Rev Tor Band, members of Max Creek, Christine Ohlman of the Saturday Night Live Band, Mark Mercier, members of Flipper Dave, Scott Allshouse, Berkshire Mountain Rambler, Brett Connors, Janine Cote, Dennis Fancher, Amy Fazzano Goodusky, Scott Guberman, Jeff Howard, Jen McCormick Jensen, Carrie Johnson, Last Fair Deal, Todd Mack, John Mayock, Glen Nelson, Eric Paradine, Mark Paradis, John Rider, Mike Sherman, Brandt Taylor, Heather Wilcox, and Matt Zeiner.
Tor Krauter, who is one of the guiding lights and the music director behind the project explained he zeroed in on “The Last Waltz” for a live re-creation because “I have always been a huge fan of The Band and ‘The Last Waltz’ film but all this really started after Levon Helm’s (the drummer of The Band) passing last year. The Rev Tor Band performed the show last May at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, Mass. as a tribute. We wanted to do something where we could include a lot of special guests. After that first performance, we realized we wanted to do it again so we teamed up with Todd (Mack)and Music In Common to produce future shows.”
Asked what he liked in particular about the original “The Last Watlz,” Tor said, “I love the concept and the vibe of the original concert and film. It’s about friends coming together, performing music together. The Rev Tor Band has always enjoyed bringing special guests up on stage. I think that comes from being such a fan of ‘The Last Waltz.’”
Tor explained he was already a fan of The Band before he saw the movie. But, he said, “After seeing the film, I was hooked.” His favorite moment in the film was when special guest Eric Clapton performed, “Further on Up the Road.”
With so many classic rock and roll figures taking part in the original event, Tor was asked if there were any challenges with trying to re-create the concert for something like “The Last Waltz Live.” He answered, “I think the biggest challenge was the question do we try and make this an impersonation?”
However, in the end, Tor said, “We decided right from the start not to do that. We stay true to the songs and the arrangements but we perform the music in our own voices.”
In the performance, “We try and stay true to the song and the arrangement… We follow the set list from the film as opposed to the album mainly because of time constraints.”
The performance is a benefit for Music in Common (MusicInCommon.org), which has a mission to “strengthen, power, and educate communities through the power of music.”
As for why it was important that the performance help Music in Common, Tor said the organization “is all about bringing people together through their common bond and love of music. That is what the original (‘The Last Waltz Live’) was all about and it is that spirit that we try to honor with our shows.
Ultimately when fans turn out in Collinsville on April 7, Tor said, “They will hear all the songs from the film that they are expecting to hear performed by their local heroes. But they will be a part of something bigger than that. That common bond and love of music, the spirit of community. It all overflows into the audience. People leave these shows feeling good and owning a piece of that spirit.”
“The Last Waltz Live” will be performed Sunday, April 7 at 7 p.m .at Bridge Street Live, 41 Bridge St., Collinsville. Tickets are $25 and $35. For tickets, go to 41BridgeStreet.com or call (860) 693-9762. For more information about “The Last Waltz Live” go to LastWaltzLive.org
Comments? Email mchaiken@BristolObserver.com
By MIKE CHAIKEN