LAST WALTZ COMING TO NOB HILLRichie Varrasso
The 40th Anniversary of one of rock empresario Bill Graham’s all-time favorite concerts he produced, “The Last Waltz” will be celebrated at San Francisco’s Nob Hill Masonic Center on Saturday, April 15, 2017. The original “Last Waltz” was held on Thanksgiving night, 1976 at Winterland in the City and it was the final performance for one of America’s most beloved bands- “The Band!” Known for their Americana blend of rock, folk, and blues, The Band featured Robbie Robertson, Garth Hudson, along with Rick Danko, Richard Manuel, Levon Helm now deceased.. The original configuration of the Band ended its touring career with this elaborate live ballroom performance featuring numerous musical celebrities. At the conclusion of the music that night, Bill Graham had a big breakfast prepared for the entire crowd! I went to the original Last Waltz concert way back then and I wouldn’t miss this party in our own backyard!
For “Last Waltz 40,” this special concert will bring The Band’s most cherished songs back to life for a night of remembrance. “Up On Cripple Creek, “The Night They Drove Ole Dixie Down,” “The Weight,” and “Chest Fever” will be among the many songs people will enjoy. Every song is a hit! The line-up will include guitar legend Warren Haynes, a high class brass section led by Mark Mullins, a solid rhythm section of Don Was and Terrence Higgins, Dr. John, Jamey Johnson, multi talented Danny Louis, and many surprises including a very special appearance by the Band’s own architect/organist, Garth Hudson!
As a special treat, I interviewed bassist, producer, and music biz mogul: DON WAS by phone from the road…..
“We’re coming through the Midwest toward San Francisco” said Don Was while traveling this way with Jamey Johnson, Warren Haynes, Dr. John and a bunch of folks playing the music from the famed Last Waltz concert originally held at the Winterland Ballroom on Thanksgiving Day November 25, 1976. This all started at a jazz festival in New Orleans where they were together playing a few of The Band’s songs and it jelled into a 40 year commemoration Last Waltz tour. The three vocalist- Jamey Johnson, Warren Haynes, and Michael McDonald didn’t look right on paper, but from the very first rehearsal the musicians blended beautifully. They knew it was a hit when they realized the crowd polarized and were singing along to songs like Cripple Creek (the first song of the original 41 song show). “This music is embedded in the American music psyche. The principals are no longer out there playing those songs and they’re among the greatest ever written. The Band had the best repertoire out there, so after playing a few gigs, feeling the excitement, and pleasing the audiences, the offers started coming in and the Last Waltz 40th Anniversary Tour was well on its way. This band is so cool it transforms into both vocal and instrumental experiences. Playing with Warren Haynes is a gas. He knows how to take you on a musical journey; he takes you on a magic carpet ride every song, I just follow along!”
“The beauty of The Band’s music is we can inhabit the songs. The Band never played songs the same each night, so every show is different for us, too. It’s a three-hour simultaneous stimulation- a show that is like meditating. Terrence Higgins is one of the best drummers I’ve ever played with. I stand right under his Hi Hat. Every night is an adventure.” When asked about ending up in the City, he said “San Francisco is a meaningful landing for this show. It is the greatest American city, the hippest, the most receptive of American cities to bands and music.” The Band’s original keyboardist and co-founder, Garth Hudson, will be at the San Francisco concert. Dr. John will bring his famed personality to add spice. It surprises Don that 30 to 40% of the audience is a younger crowd very receptive to the show. The songs are so great you don’t have to twist any arms to get into it. “My favorite moment in the show is I Shall Be Released. It’s like a spiritual moment between us and the folks in the crowd.”
For ticket information, Click Here. Be at the show and then watch for my concert review in BAM Magazine for a blow by blow description of this outstanding celebration of what magically took place here, in San Francisco, forty years ago.
If you would like to listen to Richie’s interview with Dan Was, click on the link below.