THIS FILM SHOULD BE PLAYED LOUD!
On November 25, 1976, an audience of 5,000 packed in to Winterland Ballroom — an ice skating rink that also served as a concert venue — to watch The Band perform for one last time.
It was an extravagant event. The audience was served a Thanksgiving dinner with live music, ballroom dancing and readings from various poets under the lavish lights of the chandeliers in the hall.
But the true beauty of the event was the fact that a group of people that certainly had their differences managed to work through them and come together to deliver a night of celebration.
It was dysfunctional, but human.
And isn’t that what Thanksgiving is all about? Even though you may not enjoy your uncle’s company sitting next to you at the dinner table — whether he’s discussing his political views or refuses to put down the bottle of Jack — he’s still family and you recognize that both of you are there for one common purpose.
The Last Waltz gave viewers a glimpse at these unstable relationships but showed that the musicians forgot about all of that bad blood before coming on stage and giving it all they had.
From Van Morrison’s high kicks in his tight maroon suit to Eric Clapton and Robbie Robertson trading a series of guitar licks during “Further On Up The Road”, what occurred on stage that night transcended any drama that occurred off of it.
On Friday night, The Blue Note will be presenting its second annual live recreation of the film with no detail spared.
Over the years, Blue Note local talent buyer Pat Kay frequently covered songs from the legendary concert in his various bands. But he craved more — a more complete production for a film that deserves to be seen and heard by all.
For years, Kay saved a place in The Blue Note’s booking calendar for the event — dreaming of a way to successfully pull off a worthy tribute for the historic night. But year after year, he was forced to remove the pin from the calendar — until last year.
Kay enlisted the help of former Columbia musician Sean Canan to play as The Band with his “Voodoo Players”. And slowly but surely, the parts began to assemble as Kay pieced together all the details from the film to eventually create his fantasy.
Between finding the chandeliers to mimic the original set and putting together a cast of local musicians to serve as the famous guests, Kay worked tirelessly to produce a quality product that even Richard Manuel would be proud of.
What was once just a pipe dream for Kay became a reality.
The design of the show allows for creativity and adaptation with a lighter focus on Robbie Robertson and instead more on the overall community that came together to honor the legacy of The Band’s career.
The set is structured very similarly to the original concert. The first part of the set will feature songs from The Band’s discography performed and backed by Sean Canan’s Voodoo Players and the The Funky Butt Horns. The second part of the evening will make room for the plethora of local musicians on hand to portray the iconic guests from the film. The guests were hand-picked by Kay to match the vocal styles and on-stage personalities of the artists they were chosen to portray.
Each performer left it all on the Winterland Ballroom stage 41 years ago. You can expect the same from this batch of artists on The Blue Note stage Friday night.
Listen to last year’s recording here to get you ready for Friday’s show!