Weekly Feature

2017-11-09 / Lifestyles

‘Buffalo’s The Last Waltz’:

Musicians to recapture The Band’s farewell shows
by KEATON T. DEPRIEST Amherst Associate Editor

Right, Doug Yeomans will perform as The Band’s lead guitarist in “Buffalo’s The Last Waltz Live,” set for 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 17, in Asbury Hall at Babeville, 341 Delaware Ave., Buffalo. Right, Doug Yeomans will perform as The Band’s lead guitarist in “Buffalo’s The Last Waltz Live,” set for 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 17, in Asbury Hall at Babeville, 341 Delaware Ave., Buffalo. For 16 years, five musicians traveled together, beginning with performances at dive bars and small clubs before taking the stage at the 1969 Woodstock concert and eventually headlining auditoriums and stadiums.

Ultimately, their time together drew to a close as one of the band’s members decided it was time to exit the group because of the demands of the music industry, the touring schedule and traveling.

“The Last Waltz” is a concert film by Martin Scorsese that celebrates the music and creative influences of The Band, while also recognizing what one of the group’s members referred to in the movie as the “beginning of the end of the end of the beginning.”

The final two shows of The Band’s 16-year history were held on Thanksgiving Eve and Thanksgiving in 1976 at Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco.

The Band invited fellow musicians to share in their farewell concerts — a guest list that included Neil Young, Dr. John, Neil Diamond, Eric Clapton, Joni Mitchell and Muddy Waters.

The legacy that The Band has left on music may be incalculable; its compositions fused funk, jazz, soul, rock and country, with a song repertoire that includes “The Weight,” “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” and “Up on Cripple Creek.”

While “The Last Waltz” declared the end of The Band’s work with its lead guitarist Robbie Robertson, the group’s music has been a source of inspiration to many musicians, including Doug Yeomans and music fan Robert McLennan.

Together, the two men decided to honor The Band and what may be considered the most significant two nights of performances in music history.

“Buffalo’s The Last Waltz Live” will be performed at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 17, in Asbury Hall at Babeville, 341 Delaware Ave., Buffalo.

The event is being hosted by the Sportsmen’s Americana Music Foundation, which will Left, “Buffalo’s The Last Waltz Live” will feature more than a dozen area musicians playing the roles of The Band and their invited guests as shown in the film “The Last Waltz.” The film, released in 1978, detailed The Band’s final two concerts before its lead guitarist, Robbie Robertson, parted from the group. soon be headquartered at 330 Amherst St., Buffalo, next to the Sportsmen’s Tavern.

McLennan is president of the foundation.

He and Yeomans stressed that the audience will see a re-enactment of the music, from instrument solos to vocal harmony as well as any spoken words uttered on stage during “The Last Waltz.”

“This is a tribute to all those guys and what was going on in that era,” Yeomans said.

Armed with his 1953 Fender Telecaster, Yeomans will be playing the role of Robertson.

“Robbie’s influence was huge to me,” Yeomans said. “To portray him is an honor.”

Yeomans and McLennan agreed that the creativity of the five members of the The Band led to the creation of Americana music.

“The Band, they were everything to me,” Yeomans said. “They were the end-all of music. To me, the beginning of Americana starts with them. They had the whole palette on their records.”

Yeomans credits McLennan’s perseverance in working to make Buffalo’s Last Waltz a successful tribute to The Band.

“Bob [McLennan] was the driving force in this,” Yeomans said. “He’s been magical in making this work.”

McLennan, who will be the assistant stage manager for Buffalo’s Last Waltz, said all of the actors and musicians will be dressed in replicated clothing that The Band and their guests wore during the 1976 concert.

“They are going to behave the way [the musicians] were on stage those nights,” he said. “We’re also going to have great lighting and great sound for the audience.”

Yeomans added that auditions for parts in the production began in early summer, and everyone has been preparing for the show with regular rehearsals.

“We auditioned everybody for this show,” Yeomans said. “I really feel we have the right people for each part. It was tough, too, because there was such great talent in the auditions.”

In addition to Yeomans as Robertson, The Band’s other members and the musicians playing them are:

Pete Holquin, who will be drummer and vocalist Levon Helm

Jim Whitford, as bassist and vocalist Rick Danko

Jim Ehinger, who will be pianist/keyboardist Richard Manuel

Ron Davis, as organist, keyboardist Garth Hudson

Additionally, the part of Bob Dylan will be played by Bill Smith, and Dan Delano will be featured as Dr. John.

McLennan said “The Last Waltz” is a concert film he’s loved since he first saw it in the 1970s. He said to be able to showcase The Band’s farewell through the efforts of the Sportsmen’s Americana Music Foundation is “an incredible opportunity.

“Our mission is to promote appreciation for Americana music from Buffalo and Western New York,” he said. “We’ve provided a lot of musical education and in our three years of existence held three different festivals. Through our education, we’ve also helped touch the lives of at least 100 [children] through music.”

He added that the event will be filmed so that the foundation has documentation of the musical tribute. He noted though, that the film will not be sold publicly because it would violate copyright laws.

“We are filming the event through the foundation’s state-of-the-art audio and video equipment,” McLennan said. “We’ll have six cameras to produce the film.”

McLennan also said he hopes that the concert will help extend the foundation’s influence and perhaps attract new members.

“We want people to come and see the show and watch the plethora of local talent that they will see at the show,” he added.

Tickets for “Buffalo’s The Last

Waltz Live” cost

$35 presale and

$40 at the door and can be purchased at the Sportsmen’s Tavern, 326 Amherst St., Buffalo, and the Babeville box office, 341 Delaware Ave., Buffalo.

For more information about the show, visit sportsmensamf.org or view the foundation’s Facebook page by searching Sportsmen’s Americana Music Foundation.

What: “Buffalo’s
The Last Waltz Live”
Cost: $35 presale
or $40 at the door
Purchase tickets at:
Sportsmen’s Tavern
326 Amherst St.,
Buffalo and
Babeville box office
341 Delaware Ave.,

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