The Last Waltz Live
w/Rev Tor Band and guests, April 7, 7 p.m., $25, $35, Bridge Street Live, 41 Bridge St., Collinsvile, (860) 693-9762, 41bridgestreet.com
In 2002, the world lost a distinguished and accredited journalist when Pakistani terrorists kidnapped and murdered Wall Street Journal reporter Danny Pearl. Ten years later, the world lost a celebrated and influential musician as Levon Helm succumbed to a prolonged battle with throat cancer. On Sunday night, at Bridge Street Live in Canton, a sense of musical community will bring fans, friends and musicians together to celebrate the lives of Pearl and Helm as Music In Common and The Rev Tor Band present The Last Waltz Live, a recreation of the classic film and final concert from Helm's famed group, The Band.
Formed in 2005 by musician/producer Todd Mack, Music In Common is a non-profit organization that promotes community building through music.
"It started in my backyard, throwing a party in honor of my friend Danny Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter... who was also a musician and a bandmate of mine," says Mack, calling from his studio, Off The Beat-n-Track, located in the lovely Berkshires in Sheffield, Mass. "I threw a party in his honor on his birthday, and called it FODfest — FOD being an acronym for Friends of Danny. That very first party in 2005, I sort of sensed this community that was being created around music and started exploring ways that you could tap into that power and apply it to different situations where you could create social change with it."
When Helm passed in April last year, Tor Krautter and his band, the Rev Tor Band, wanted to pay tribute to Helm's legacy, as he was an influence on them and so many musicians.
"So we thought a great way to do it would be to do The Last Waltz Live, and we invited local musicians (including Mack) from the Berkshires, as that's where our home base is," says Krautter on a separate phone call. "We put the show on at the Colonial Theater in Pittsfield (Mass.) on May 30th, 2012, and it was really well received and a lot of fun, and we decided that we wanted to keep it going. So we teamed up with Todd Mack, of Music In Common, and he took over as producer and I stayed on as music director, and my band stayed on as the core band."
For Sunday night's performance in Canton, along with the Rev Tor Band, the line up will feature several members of famed Connecticut jamband pioneers Max Creek, as well as members of Flipper Dave, local Hammond organ whiz Matt Zeiner and Canton's own guitar phenom Jeff Howard, among many others. And, Krautter adds, "Well, we're very lucky and excited to get Christine Olhman, who is currently the singer in the Saturday Night Live Band, and she's based out of Connecticut."
Asked to expand upon what musicians will be playing particular musical parts or who may be singing what songs, Krautter says that he likes to keep that info under wraps until show time, keeping the anticipation up.
He says there had been thought given to performing recreations of other classic recordings and performances.
"We just kept coming back to The Last Waltz because it really is such a well-known soundtrack, and it seems to have influenced so many people, so many musicians in particular," he says. "And Music In Common, their mission is to bring people together through the common bond of music. And that's kind of what the original concert and the movie was about, and it just works. It's a nice match between the Rev Tor band, The Last Waltz and Music In Common and what all three are all about."
Music In Common's primary focus is on the Middle East, specifically Israel and Palestine. Programming includes the FODfest concerts, similar to that which Mack put on in his backyard in 2005, but on a larger scale, open to the public and featuring as many as 20 musicians on stage, most of whom are interacting for the first time.