Local Musicians Give The Band’s “The Last Waltz” One More Dance [VIDEO]
One of the consummate concert films of all time is about to be musically and whimsically recreated by an amazing conglomerate of Central Minnesota musicians. The Last Waltz, a concert film released in 1978, was heralded as one of the finest on-stage performances by The Band, a group that had garnered more accolades as supporting musicians, than as a cohesive unit with 6 albums of their own. Despite radio play of Up On Cripple Creek, The Weight and Stage Fright, when someone mentioned The Band, all thoughts turned to Bob Dylan.
Tonight (Tuesday) through Saturday night, local band Collective Unconscious stands as the core performers seeking to re-create this stunning moment in time.
Collective Unconscious is Nathan “Nature” Nesje, Jeff Engholm, Muggsy Lauer, George Maurer and Andy Deckard. And much like the songsmiths they seek to pay tribute to this week, CU has brought together a diverse group of St. Cloud Area musicians that they have collaborated with in the past.
The list of guest performers reads like a Saturday night on the St. Cloud local music scene; Stacy Bauer (BLIMP/Stearns County Pachanga), Mark “Hazzy” Hasbrouck (BLIMP, Surahoolies), Leon Laudenbach (Taboo Blue), Grant Haake (Revolution 5), Jeff Lee (The Receders) and a special appearance by Dan Barth.
To round out the sound of the actual Last Waltz performance, a horn section was put together and dubbed The Ad Hoc Horns; Ken Vork, Gretchen Vork, Lauren Vork, Richard Witteman, Brian Pearson, Ryan Voss and Mike Anderson.
I was lucky enough to be invited to a rehearsal of the show on Monday night and captured this moving performance of The Band’s I Shall Be Released.
A Little History on The Last Waltz
It was supposed to be the end of The Band. But, The Last Waltz turned out to be a cultural phenomenon, a piece of film art held up as a masterpiece. Ultimately this concert of musical heavyweights signaled the end of an era, an end not of The Band, but an end of ideals, of struggles and of the 60’s. By November of 1976, the Hippie generation’s music and lifestyle had begun to erode as political disillusionment, economic downturns and hard drugs like cocaine and pills began to tear apart the American counter-culture.
Popular music was infected with disco and pop-country, and the group that had gathered at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco for this event felt this turning away. The film was directed by Martin Scorsese, his third, and it not only gave document to the musical performances, but it captured an emotional moment in time with backstage antics and interviews. The Band had collaborated with hundreds of musicians, and most famously were Bob Dylan’s touring/studio backing band off and on since 1965.
The Band was joined on stage by more than a dozen special guests, including Paul Butterfield, Eric Clapton, Neil Diamond, Bob Dylan, Emmylou Harris, Dr. John, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, Ringo Starr, Muddy Waters, and Neil Young.