In case you’re not familiar with The Last Waltz and the events of Thanksgiving Day, 1976 at San Francisco’s Winterland Ballroom, the people behind Feels Good are organizing a 40th anniversary celebration to enlighten you of what was arguably the finest concert film ever made.
Forty years ago, Canadian-American rock group The Band were on the brink of retiring from the road. A boating accident had injured the band’s keyboardist/lyricist Richard Manuel, and guitarist/vocalist Robbie Robertson began pushing for the band to leave the rigors of touring behind, for a cushy life of studio work. The Last Waltz was to be their farewell concert appearance.
While the concert was intended to feature just The Band, Naturally, after having spent the better part of two decades working as musicians they had a few friends looking to give them a good send-off. Ronnie ‘The Hawk’ Hawkins, who the band got their start with, and Bob Dylan, who the band backed for years later were both added to the performing guest list, and it grew from there. Ultimately they were joined by more than a dozen special guests including Paul Butterfield, Neil Young, Emmylou Harris, Ringo Star, Dr. John, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, Muddy Water, Ronnie Wood, Neil Diamond, Bobby Charles, The Staple Singers, and Eric Clapton. All of this was to be documented by now-legendary film maker Martin Scorsese.
The Feels Good 40th anniversary tribute will feature members of the 20 Year Strong Ensemble who have done tributes to the likes of Bob Marley and The Beastie Boys in the past. The show will feature a core band of seven people, with a dozen special guests of their own, performing twenty-four of the songs from the original show.
“I got in contact with Josh Bravener of the Hypochondriacs and Sean Hutchins of Maggies Farm Revival to see if they would be interested in taking on the project, and they jumped at the opportunity,” says Feels Good master event-juggler Paul McAllister. They’ve collectively reached out to members of Sugar Bomb, Motherhood, The Down Town Blues Band, Kill Chicago, Dub Antenna, The Floogs, amongst others.
Aside the from the landmark 40 year anniversary of the iconic concert, the event is hoping to be a celebration of the collaborative network of talented musicians that Fredericton seems to have a wealth of. McAllister says that the level of excitement between the organizers and the musicians is tangible at this point. “We’ve got some real treats lined up for the evenings entertainment, be it surprise guests, or the structure of the night in general, however you look at it, it’s gonna be one for the books.”
“The Last Waltz is one of the best live performances of all time by one of the best bands of all time,” says Josh Bravener of The Hypochondriacs. “I have been wanting to participate in something “The Band” related for a few years now. Couldn’t be more excited to pay tribute to one of the best concerts of all time. We have some of Fredericton’s finest participating in this crazy tribute.”
The concert is on November 24th at the Boyce Farmer’s Market in Fredericton. Advanced tickets go on sale Friday October 28th for $20 at Graystone Brewing, or $25 at the door.