MANHATTAN, NY—At The Last Waltz 40th Anniversary Celebration, producer/guitarist and New York City native Larry Campbell played musical director to the triple album and film directed by Martin Scorsese. The original was a star-studded affair that was also The Band’s farewell and was filmed at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco on Thanksgiving in 1976.
The film documented the giants of an era and a time that many consider the peak of American music as Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Emmylou Harris, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison and Muddy Waters, amongst others, took to the stage with The Band backing them up. They also played their own numbers with a horn section adding some New Orleans-style gumbo to their rustic rock.
At Lincoln Center Out Of Doors, original Last Waltz alumnus Howard Johnson, who played tuba and baritone sax, and Dr. John, who reprised “Such A Night,” returned for a momentous night for the ages. The housebound breathed life into The Band’s storied catalogue as drummer Shawn Pelton laid down Levon Helm’s gloriously syncopated backbeats to The Band’s dynamic boogie-woogie. Facing the musicians from the side of the stage like Levon did, he played rhythmic leader to Campbell and The Band’s ’80s era guitarist Jim Weider’s minimalist, twangy and ever so tasty leads.
Bob Weir, Lucinda Williams, Patty Griffin, Teddy Thompson, Anderson East, and Buddy Miller guested on guitars and vocals taking us back to the ’70s. Opening with “This Wheel’s On Fire,” The Band started slowly then built itself into a funky unit of countrified rock as Campbell’s twisted guitar runs and fiddling took us back to Music From The Big Pink.
Teresa Williams sang a beautiful rendition of “Evangeline” with Patty Griffin. Lucinda Williams added her whiskey-stained vocals to the beautifully plaintive “It Makes No Difference.” Bob Weir played a rousing rendition of “Further On Up The Road” as he traded leads with Larry Campbell, reminiscent of the Robbie Robertson/ Eric Clapton guitar slugout of the film.
Anderson East sang an incredible take on Van Morrison’s “Caravan.” Howard Johnson’s tuba jumpstarted “Rag Mama Rag” as he took it from rag to a reel and on back to Woodstock. Campbell played the keyboard intro to “Chest Fever,” starting off the encores as his guitar morphed, then dove into a psychedelic ramble.
On “Forever Young,” the cast traded verses as “The Weight” ended it all with the entire lineup joining in on the choruses, ending an incredible night of Americana from country to blues and across the Great Divide. Big thanks Levon, Robbie, Rick, Garth and Richard for making it all possible in the first place, and to Larry Campbell for pulling this one together that really was Such a Night!
“This Wheel’s On Fire,” “The Shape I’m In,” “Life Is A Carnival,” “Up On Cripple Creek (w/ Buddy Miller),” “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down (w/ Buddy Miller),” “Ophelia (w/ Teddy Thompson),” “Evangeline (w/ Patty Griffin),” “Caravan (w/ Anderson East),” “Rag Mama Rag,” “It Makes No Difference (w/ Lucinda Williams),” “Further On Up The Road (w/ Bob Weir),” “Such A Night (w/ Dr. John),” “Down South In New Orleans (w/ Buddy Miller),” “Long Black Veil,” “Genetic Method > Chest Fever,” “Forever Young (all),” “The Weight (all).”
Show date: August 6, 2016