August 12, 2016 – 5:21 am

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The Last Waltz 40th Anniversary
The Midnight Ramble Band and Guests [no label, 2CD]

Live at Damrosch Park, Lincoln Center, New York, NY; Augut 6, 2016. Fairly to very good audience recording.

Scott Bernstein,

When it comes to grand finales, The Band sure did it right. Robbie Robertson, Levon Helm, Garth Hudson, Rick Danko and Richard Manuel ended their career with a marathon, guest-filled concert they called The Last Waltz at San Francisco’s Winterland Ballroom on Thanksgiving Day 1976. With the 40th anniversary of The Last Waltz approaching, many tributes to one of the greatest concerts in rock history will be held. The bar was set high on Saturday night at Damrosch Park in New York City, where Helm’s longtime band was joined by an impressive array of guests to honor The Last Waltz.

It was an interesting mix of Deadheads looking to see what Bob Weir would contribute, The Band fans and Dylan freaks who seemed to be in a contest for who could wear a t-shirt with the most obscure reference to Bob’s music. The house band for the main event was The Midnight Ramble Band, a group of musicians who backed Levon Helm for a period that spanned over a decade. Musical director Larry Campbell was The Band drummer’s closest collaborator during the final act of his legendary and often turbulent career. Campbell, his wife Teresa Williams, keyboardist Brian Mitchell, guitarist Jim Weider and a horn section that included Steven Bernstein, Howard Johnson and Erik Lawrence backed Levon hundreds of times both at Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock and at locations across the globe. This is all to say no one is better suited to play the music of The Band in 2016 than The Midnight Ramble Band.

While the original Last Waltz featured over 40 songs, Saturday’s tribute was a more truncated affair which included 18 of the best tunes played on Thanksgiving ’76. It was an all-killer, no-filler version of The Last Waltz. Campbell led the Midnight Ramble Band for a string of “This Wheel’s On Fire,” “The Shape I’m In” and “Life Is A Carnival” to kick off the set. Drummer Shawn Pelton impressed in a tough role standing in instrumentally for Levon. He gave the music the verve and energy that helped separate The Band from the rest of the pack back in the late ’60s and ’70s. What also stood out were Allen Toussaint’s horn arrangements, which sound as fresh and original as they did when The Band unveiled them at the Rock Of Ages and Last Waltz concerts.

Guitarist/vocalist Buddy Miller was the evening’s first guest as he led The Midnight Ramble Band on both “Up On Cripple Creek” and “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.” The former was powered by Mitchell’s funky clavinet work, while the latter showed off Miller’s dynamic singing. British singer-songwriter Teddy Thompson, the son of Richard and Linda Thompson, displayed impressive pipes on a rousing “Ophelia” before Patti Griffin stepped into the role Emmylou Harris played 40 years ago on “Evangeline.”

One of the standout moments of The Last Waltz tribute came when young singer-songwriter Anderson East fronted The Midnight Ramble Band on “Caravan.” East has the frenetic energy that Van Morrison had 40 years ago and the 28-year-old vocalist won himself many new fans on Saturday night. It was then time to turn the spotlight on one of two musicians performing at the event who took part in the original Last Waltz – Howard Johnson. Campbell talked about HoJo’s close relationship with Levon and how the pair remained collaborators for over 40 years. Johnson’s tuba was brought out front for a raucous “Rag Mama Rag” that had even the most staid concertgoers on their feet.

Lucinda Williams received one of the biggest cheers of the night when she came out to sing “It Makes No Difference.” Her distinctive voice made for a vastly different version of the tune than the Danko-sung original… The evening came to a close with a pair of grand finales as everyone but Dr. John came out for “Forever Young” and the doc joined the fray on “The Weight.” The two-hour concert went by incredibly quickly thanks to the perfect pacing of the setlist. If Helm, Manuel and Danko were watching down from the great beyond even they must have been impressed with a tribute worthy of one of rock’s greatest nights.

Click here for the full write-up.

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Thanks to Danny Thompson and Katharine Hein who recorded the show; and to Joe D’Amico aka Joebeacon who edited and shared it at Dime.

Pictures by Adam McCullough, posted at - Thanks!

DPA 4011 Mics > Art Pro Power > Uher CR 240 (Mouth Tape)
Uher CR 240 > Korg Mr-1000 > Audio Gate > Adobe Audition CS6 > Ozone 5 > Traders Little Helper

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Disc 1
Track 101. Intro 2:13 (3.7MB)
Track 102. This Wheel’s On Fire 5:32 (9.3MB)
Track 103. The Shape I’m In 5:36 (9.4MB)
Track 104. Life Is A Carnival 4:47 (8.0MB)
Track 105. Up On Cripple Creek (with Buddy Miller) 5:29 (9.2MB)
Track 106. The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down (with Buddy Miller) 4:50 (8.1MB)
Track 107. Ophelia (with Teddy Thompson) 4:39 (7.8MB)
Track 108. Helpless (with Patti Griffith) 5:04 (8.5MB)
Track 109. Evangeline (with Patti Griffith) 4:24 (7.4MB)
Track 110. Caravan (with Anderson East) 6:44 (11.3MB)
Track 111. Rag Mama Rag (with Howard Johnson) 8:35 (14.4MB)
58 mins

Disc 2
Track 201. It Makes No Difference (with Lucinda Williams) 7:56 (13.3MB)
Track 202. Further On Up The Road (with Bob Weir) 7:52 (13.2MB)
Track 203. Such A Night (with Dr John; song cuts out at 2:02 due to tape flip) 3:04 (5.2MB)
Track 204. Down South In New Orleans (with Buddy Miller) 5:01 (8.4MB)
Track 205. Long Black Veil 5:27 (9.2MB)
Track 206. Genetic Method 2:27 (4.1MB)
Track 207. Chest Fever 7:24 (12.4MB)
Track 208. Forever Young (everyone except Dr John) 9:13 (15.5MB)
Track 209. The Weight (all) 5:35 (9.4MB)
54 mins

The Midnight Ramble Band and Guests

  Click here to order The Last Waltz.

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  1. 6 Responses to “VARIOUS - LAST WALTZ 40th ANNIVERSARY 2016”

  2. Can’t wait to hear this. Larry Campbell is keeping Levon’s legacy alive (along with his other bandmates in The Weight). I saw the tribute hosted by Warren Haynes in May and that was amazing, I’m sure this one will be too.

    By BillfromPgh on Aug 12, 2016

  3. looking forward to hearing this before it gets slagged by the idiot here who thinks nothing after the 70`s matters. thanks big o.

    By sluggo on Aug 12, 2016

  4. IRON MAIDEN then The Last Waltz 40th Anniversary with the MINISTRY in the middle this is just the best thanks

    By skinned knees on Aug 12, 2016

  5. Hi Big O. Thank you for making the Last waltz Anniversary Show available. I’ve really enjoyed it. However, must point out there seems to be a problem with track 104. I couldn’t get it to play or download despite several attempts.

    By U4ea on Aug 12, 2016

  6. Thanks for this concert. Enjoyable.

    By shadreck on Aug 13, 2016

  7. damn this makes me feel old. i was at the last waltz when i was 23, and it was pretty much as great as you think it was. (except for the turkey they served before the show!)

    By mr. stu on Aug 13, 2016

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