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We Shall Be Released - tribute to the Last Waltz on CBC


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Some more info..

Wednesday, November 22 - 8:00 p.m.

Thursday, November 23 - 8:00 p.m.

CBC Radio's OnStage presents

We Shall Be Released -

A Celebration of The Last Waltz.

Long before the Canadian recording industry got its start The Band paved the way for the Canadian pop / rock musicians of today. On the American Thanksgiving Holiday in 1976, after sixteen years on the road The Band said goodbye to their fans by staging an all star concert that featured artists such as; Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Bob Dylan and Ronnie Hawkins. On the 30th anniversary of this event a torch will be passed to a new generation of Canadian artists as OnStage gathers together an all-star band that will pay tribute to the music of The Band and the artists that shared the stage with them back in 1976.

The concert will feature the collaboration and performance of material from throughout The Band’s career. Anchoring the event will be Blackie and The Rodeo Kings, led by three extraordinary guitarists and singer/songwriters: Colin Linden, Tom Wilson and Stephen Fearing. They’ll be backed by Richard Bell, keyboards; Gary Craig, drums; and John Dymond, bass. Joining them OnStage will be an all-star cast of headliners incudling; Kathleen Edwards, Jason Collett, Oh Susanna, Tony Dekker, Dione Taylor, Luke Doucet and Paul Reddick.

Sorry, both of these concerts are sold out!


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I guess they obviously have to choose songs from the Last Waltz but what a yuckfest of choices. I sense I wouldn't really care for these performances.

"I think there's plenty of past times that are great and plenty of future times that hopefully will be."

Nice reference by Linden to Clapton and Danko's co-penned All Our Past Times. All our past times should be forgotten, all our past times should be erased.

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I didn't get to hear it, but I heard it was a dud (other than maybe the Blackie and the Rodeo Kings stuff). Too bad. Looked good on paper.

The amazing Rob Bowman did write a piece for it. I had him as a prof at York back in the early 90s ... best fucking course i ever took in my educational years):

We Shall Be Released

notes by Rob Bowman

Between 1968 and Thanksgiving Day 1976, The Band made some of the most distinctive, joyous and heart-rending music in the history of rock and roll. The group's five members originally came together in 1960 and 1961, one by one joining forces as rockabilly dynamo Ronnie Hawkins' backing band, The Hawks. They forged a fierce, primal rock and roll sound behind Hawkins, playing night after ni ght in Toronto's Yonge Street bars and in honkytonks throughout the southern United States. By the time they headed out on their own in late 1963, they were masters of rockabilly, country, r&b and blues. After two singles and a year and a half of endless gigging as Levon and the Hawks, they were tapped by Bob Dylan to back him up on his first electric tour. Climaxing nine months later in late May 1966 at Royal Albert Hall, The Band and Bob Dylan created a sound on stage that changed the very nature of w hat rock and roll performance could be.

After the tour finished, the group retired to the upstate New York community of Woodstock, writing, rehearsing and woodshedding for two years, while developing an identity and sound that would stand American rock convention on its head. They emerged from the mountains in April 1968 with Music From Big Pink, one of the most enigmatic albums ever offered for public consumption.

As I wrote in an essay that accompanied the CD box set The Band: A Musical Hi story: "Everything about the album and The Band flew in the face of the then-current ethos of rock'n'roll. The name of the group, its members' sartorial style, the full-panel picture of four generations of kin on the inside of the fold-out sleeve, the lyrics and the music were as far removed from the conventions of the late 1960s (or any other time for that matter) as possible. The Band, then, and evermore, was a wholly original and idiosyncratic ensemble that created some of the purest, most honest and eth ereal music human beings will ever know. At their best, they sounded like five strong, independent, secure musicians who had a bond as a community whose power was that much greater, due to its members' individuality."

With songs such as The Weight and Chest Fever, Music From Big Pink became a staple on rock radio. Over the next eight years The Band, on albums such as their eponymous-titled second disc, Stage Fright and Northern Lights-Southern Cross, wrote and recorded such classic songs as The Nigh t They Drove Old Dixie Down, Up on Cripple Creek, Acadian Driftwood and It Makes No Difference. With a line-up comprised of four Canadians and one American, they somehow were able to conjure up images, stories and sounds that came straight out of mythic Americana. In doing so, they ironically caught the zeitgeist of not only their own time but innumerable times - twenty, forty, sixty, eighty and a hundred years earlier.

Never before and never since, have there been five musicians who so thoroughly i nternalized the complete range of American roots music: country, blues, cajun, rock, soul, funk, gospel, marching brass band music, funeral dirges, Anglican church hymns and God knows what else. The result was a wondrous amalgam of music unlike any other. Most artists can easily be slotted into one or another genre of popular music. For example Elvis started as a rockabilly musician, the Beatles played Merseybeat and later on started progressive rock, and the Sex Pistols were punk musicians. The music made by Rick Danko, Levon Helm, Garth Hudson, Richard Manuel and Robbie Robertson falls into no specific genre. They were then and forever will be, simply The Band.

In early fall 1976, Robbie Robertson announced to the rest of The Band that he no longer wanted to tour. He suggested that they go out with a bang and play one final star-studded concert at San Francisco's Winterland - the same venue they had played their first concert as The Band, back in April 1969. In addition to playing its way through so ngs from the beginning to the end of its career, the group chose to invite a number of guests that in one way or another were connected to them personally and represented one of the many musical tributaries that The Band had drawn upon in making their own music. To that end, over the course of the evening Ronnie Hawkins, Dr. John, Bobby Charles, Paul Butterfield, Muddy Waters, Eric Clapton, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Neil Diamond, Van Morrison and Bob Dylan took the stage, each accompanied by The Band. The evening was fittingly dubbed The Last Waltz. Four plus hours and forty-two songs later, The Band had indeed summed up and paid tribute to its own career, while simultaneously celebrating with guests what it means to make music from the heart, for the love of it, and with an energy-charged freedom born out of a wide open embracement of everything roots American music has to offer. It was probably the greatest single show in the history of rock music.

The idea for a contemporary concert that in one wa y or another celebrated The Last Waltz came to CBC producer Ron Skinner five years ago, on the eve of The Last Waltz 25th anniversary. When he was given the green light, one of the first artists he approached was Tom Wilson of Toronto's Blackie and the Rodeo Kings. When it was suggested that Blackie would be ideal as the backing band for the whole event, Skinner couldn't believe his luck and jumped on the idea. In fact, there is no contemporary group that would be even remotely as well suited for such a rol e.

Blackie member Colin Linden grew up loving The Band and as a professional musician had developed close relationships with Garth Hudson, Levon Helm and the late Rick Danko. In 1993 the reunited Band, which by then included future Blackie keyboardist Richard Bell, cut Linden's Remedy for the Jericho CD. The album itself was named after Bell's song The Caves of Jericho.

By the time Blackie and the Rodeo Kings came on board, most of the guest artists including Kathleen Edwards, Broken Social Scene member Jason Collett, singer-songwriter Luke Doucet, up and coming r&b diva Dione Taylor, and alt folk darlings Oh Susannah and Tony Dekker, had already signed on. Having taken on the role of music director, Linden felt that while many of the musical tributaries that The Band and their guests had explored during the original Last Waltz were adequately covered, the line-up was a little light on blues content, represented at the original event by Muddy Waters and Eric Clapton. Canadian blues icon Pa ul Reddick was consequently asked to plug the gap.

As both Skinner and Linden envisioned the concert, the idea was to celebrate the spirit of The Last Waltz without being foolish enough to try and replicate it. To that end, all the artists were invited to choose whatever they wanted to sing but were in no way compelled to pick songs that either The Band or their guests had performed at the original Last Waltz in November 1976. While many of the current artists did pick material that was played on th at halcyon night thirty years ago, others such as Jason Collett and Tony Dekker opted for songs written and recorded by The Band's guests but not necessarily played at The Last Waltz. In that vein Linden suggested that Reddick work up a version of Why Are People Like That? The song was written by Last Waltz guest Bobby Charles and originally recorded by Waltz guest Muddy Waters on his Woodstock album which, in turn, was produced by The Band's Levon Helm. You could call that tripartite resonance. The current event also honours the music made by the reunited Band sans Robertson in the form of the aforementioned The Caves of Jericho and Remedy, both cut seventeen years after the final note of the original Last Waltz had faded away.

While there have been a number of "tribute" concerts to great artists over the years, this is the first concert that I am aware of that doffs a collective hat to one particular evening. In this case though, it was an evening that thirty years later remains one of the greatest nights in the history of popular music. If these concerts capture even 10% of the magic, love, camaraderie and great music that was on offer at The Last Waltz, we are all in for a treat.

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In 1993 the reunited Band, which by then included future Blackie keyboardist Richard Bell, cut Linden's Remedy for the Jericho CD. The album itself was named after Bell's song The Caves of Jericho.

The Band played the Masonic Temple (Concert Hall) in Toronto that year (as did Phish ) I ended up sitting beside Colin Linden and Bruce Cockburn while drinking Upper Canada ales (when they weren't twist-offs ) ... pretty damn cool.

Later . . .

Kanada Kev =8)

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