“The Last Waltz” was the farewell concert for the long-time touring group, The Band.  Their concert at Winterland included an all-star bevy of guest stars and memorable performances.   On Sunday, June 2nd, at Highline Ballroom, the Rev Tor band invited their list of special guests to reimagine that farewell concert and transport all in ear shot back to Thanksgiving, 1976.  The evening was not only magical, filled with memorable moments with many of today’s best musicians on hand languishing in Last Waltz classics, but one shared in the love of knowing it was all for the charity, Music in Common.

Founded in 2005, Music in Common (www.musicincommon.org) is a non-profit organization that globally supports the arts in underserved and turbulent areas by providing concerts, school programs and other means to promote social change through the universal language of music.   Rev Tor, a band that has toured up and down the east coast since 1996, partnered with Music in Common and agreed to forward all profits to the charity.  The Last Waltz Live continues with six more dates in New England this summer.

On this night, the Rev Tor Band consisting of Tor Krautter (guitar), Dan Broad – (bass), Scott Guberman (organ) and Andy Crawford (drums) would play the role of the house band aka The Band.  Rather than emulate the legendary Canadians, Rev Tor effectively delivered a bevy of Band hits in order from the original epic concert’s set list including “Don’t Do It”, “Up On Cripple Creek” and “The Shape I’m In.”  Then the barrage of guest sit-ins began to roll out.  Johnny Markowski , from New Riders of the Purple Sage, did his best Ronnie Hawkins impersonation by exclaiming, “Big time Bill, Big time!” before busting into a fiery “Who Do You Love?”  Still one of the saddest songs ever, “It Makes No Difference” was followed not by a piano player, but Jack Grace bouncing, bopping and stealing the show with “Such a Night.”  Rachel Sage led an interesting female lead vocal take on Neil Young’s “Helpless.”  The Band’s most known work, “The Weight”, was performed with Todd Mack, Caroline Mack, Greg Koerner, Conor Meehan with Arron Maxwell from God Street Wine on guitar and Greg Koerner of Gent Treadly on bass, with alternating vocals on each verse as is customary.

The second set continued to be energetic and fun for the sold-out show at Highline Hall, which contained many dancing fans despite being set up for table service.  Soulfarm sang “Dry Your Eyes” before Katie Pearlman shared the Joni Mitchell classic, “Coyote ” with Joe Gallent from Illuminati on bass.  The majestic “Evangeline” was performed by Blake Christiana and Andrew Hendryx from Yarn on guitar and mandolin respectively.  Godfrey Townsend shredded the guitar ala Eric Clapton for “Furthur on Up the Road”, leaving only the breaking of a guitar string to the imagination.  Danielle Cotton conjured up a feisty “Caravan” before Jeff Mattson, lead guitarist and vocalist with Dark Star Orchestra took the stage.  Mattson subtly played the role of icon Bob Dylan with satisfactory substance.  He led his cohorts through “Forever Young” and “Baby Let Me Follow You Down.”   Finally, all participating artists reunited for the consummate finale:  “I Shall Be Released.”

One is fortunate to catch a rare opportunity to witness a live performance of one of music’s greatest and historic concerts, as immortalized in Martin Scorsese’s 1978 film.  One could leave fully satiated knowing that their hard earned gate money not only garnered an exemplary musical experience but that it also served a greater and more altruistic cause.

-Chadbyrne Dickens

(Photos by Brian Walter)

The Last Waltz Live @ The Highline Ballroom  - A Benefit for Music In Common