Halifax is getting its own 40th celebration of the classic rockumentary ‘The Last Waltz’. Being held at the Marquee Ballroom, the show will be subbing in some of Nova Scotia’s musical talents for Canada classic rock legends The Band.
Recreating the concert, and corresponding documentary has become a tradition for musicians and filmmakers. It’s a testament to the quality of the original performance, and just how completely stacked it was with incredible musicians. The original, aside from The Band itself, featured a cast over forty of the biggest artists of the day, including the likes of Ronnie Hawkins, Bob Dylan, 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. Then on top of it, the whole thing was filmed by now-legendary film maker Martin Scorsese.
Chief organizer and show producer Craig Mercer promises their Halifax re-creation will be a star-studded event, even if it does not featured the traditional Thanksgiving dinner. “No turkey dinner though we did consider it – turns out it is a lot of work to organize a cast of over forty artists for a one night show. We figured adding a turkey dinner to the mix might just complicate things,” says Mercer. “We’d prefer to focus on producing the best show we can.”
The massive cast will draw deep from Halifax’s well of talent, and while local band King Harvest will be anchoring the performance as The Band, the stage will see a heavy rotation of musicians taking the stage as they come and go throughout the evening. As for the songs, they’ll be deviating from what most people know as the set list of the film version of the Last Waltz from the movie version, and reorganizing the night to correspond more closely to the original live version, with a few pieces moved about to accommodate schedules.
“With so many awesome musicians we had some artists who have other gigs in the city on the same night, so we have had to adjust our schedule to accommodate them making their other commitments,” says Mercer. “We cast everybody with a particular role in mind, and just arranged a few songs in the set list to accommodate the few artists that had other commitment.”
This isn’t even the first Last Waltz that Mercer has put on at the Marquee Ballroom. They had organized another show seven years ago when it looked like the doors of the Marquee Ballroom were going to close for the last time. “It seemed to be fitting given those circumstances,” says Mercer. “The show was so awesome that i think all people involved – particularly John Wesley Chisholm (band leader for King Harvest) – were just waiting for the right opportunity to reprise it, and the 40th anniversary seemed like the perfect time.”
The line-up includes, but is not limited to: Rich Aucoin, Keonté Beals, Brian Byrne, Brad Conrad (of The Mellotones), Kirsten Olivia, Kim Harris, Kyle McCracken (of Dub Kartel), Craig Mercer (of The Jimmy Swift Band / Scientists of Sound), Jeff Mosher (of The Mellotones), Mike Ryan (of The Town Heroes), Reeny Smith, Bill Stevenson, Victor Syperek, Rebecca Thomas, Al Tuck, Tracey Williams (of Universal Soul), Alana Yorke, and Tyler Mullendore.
Show goes starts November 26th at 8:00pm. Tickets are $20 plus fees.