Saturday, August 6, 2016

The Last Waltz 40th Anniversary Celebration at Damrosch Park

The Band first came together as rockabilly singer Ronnie Hawkins' backing group, the Hawks, between 1958 and 1963. In 1965, Bob Dylan hired the musicians for his U.S. tour in 1965 and world tour in 1966. The group began performing apart from Dylan as the Band in 1968 and released 10 studio albums, ending its touring career with a star-studded concert in 1976 in San Francisco, California. This performance became Martin Scorsese's 1978 documentary film The Last Waltz. The Band recommenced touring in 1983 without guitarist Robbie Robertson, and occasionally resurfaced with various line-ups until bassist Rick Danko's death in 1999.

Lincoln Center Out of Doors' annual AmericanaFest NYC: Roots of American Music tonight hosted a 40th anniversary tribute to The Last Waltz. This free concert featured the late Band drummer Levon Helm’s collective, the Midnight Ramble Band, and its longtime musical director, multi-instrumentalist Larry Campbell, along with vocalist/guitarist Teresa Williams, keyboardist Brian Mitchell, guitarist Jim Weider, bassist Jacob Silver, drummer Shawn Pelton and a horn section that included Steven Bernstein, Jay Collins, Clark Gayton, and Erik Lawrence. Bob Weir, Dr. John, Lucinda Williams, Patty Griffin, Buddy Miller, Howard Johnson, Teddy Thompson, and Anderson East also performed on several songs. Both Dr. John and Howard Johnson performed at the original Last Waltz in 1976. The original Last Waltz featured 40 songs; this two-hour tribute consisted of 18 of those songs.

Larry Campbell and the Midnight Ramble Band began with "This Wheel’s On Fire," "The Shape I’m In" and "Life Is a Carnival," and closed the main set with a medley of "Genetic Method" into "Chest Fever."

Guitarist/vocalist Buddy Miller, the evening’s first featured guest, joined the Midnight Ramble Band on "Up On Cripple Creek" and "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down." Later in the set, Miller sang "Down South In New Orleans."

Singer-songwriter Teddy Thompson, the son of Richard and Linda Thompson, sang a rousing "Ophelia."
Patti Griffin sang "Helpless" and "Evangeline." 

Singer-songwriter Anderson East sang "Caravan."

 Howard Johnson on tuba led "Rag Mama Rag."

 Lucinda Williams sang "It Makes No Difference."

 Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead sang "Further On Up The Road."

 Dr. John sang "Such A Night," as he did at the original Last Waltz.

Theresa Williams sang "Long Black Veil."

For the encore, the entire cast except Dr. John performed "Forever Young,"
and then with Dr. John, all performed "The Weight."