Most of us let great ideas die because we believe they are too lofty, or we don’t have faith in ourselves or others to make them materialize. For that reason, my head turned when I heard Portland music writer/broadcaster/performer Jeff Rosenberg rallied almost sixty notable musicians to recreate The Last Waltz in live stage form this coming November 26th.
Taking place at Portland’s historic Alberta Rose Theatre 35 years and one day after The Band‘s legendary farewell show, Rosenberg is planning “all kinds of little things to evoke the original concert,” dubbing his highly-anticipated revival, The Next Waltz.
Performing the songs of Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, and more is a local all-star cast including Al James from Dolorean, Holcombe Waller, The Parson Red Heads, and many others (see full roster below).
Rather than a scripted or visual play-by-play of the acclaimed concert film by Martin Scorsese, Rosenberg is leaving performances in the hands of the musicians and their own interpretations. He has also taken some artistic license, adding a few songs excluded from the original film release and employing three house bands rather than individually casting each Band member. Trumpet and pedal steel virtuoso Paul Brainard is transcribing the horn arrangements with a little bit of help from friends and family of The Band’s drummer, Levon Helm.
“I, myself, with a fair amount of chutzpah, am going to take on the role of Van Morrison, and the famous burgundy polyester jumpsuit is part of that, ” Rosenberg notes, chuckling. “Also, we have Portland’s great Beat poet Walt Curtis reading the Ferlinghetti poem, ‘Loud Prayer.'”
In the spirit of the pro-local, socially-progressive Portland music culture, Rosenberg has decided to donate all proceeds to The Jeremy Wilson Foundation (JWF), a flourishing organization that provides financial aid to underinsured musicians in times of medical crisis. (In its first year, The JWF has already supplied $20,000 in assistance.) Jeremy Wilson, founder of The JWF and frontman of the popular Portland late-’80s/early-’90s band, Dharma Bums, will also perform in the show.
“I feel very honored to sing the last song of the night and to share the stage with such a variety of great musicians,” says Wilson. “The Last Waltz three-record set was a staple in our house, and when I was around thirteen and first saw the concert film, it was incredibly influential.”
According to both Rosenberg and Wilson, The Next Waltz is a representation of the Portland music community at its finest. “It’s just always amazed me, the generosity and camaraderie among musicians here,” notes Rosenberg.
“It just goes to prove what a generous community of socially responsible musicians Portland has,” adds Wilson. In addition to helping The JWF, attendees are encouraged to tote a couple of cans of food with them to benefit Oregon Food Bank during the holiday season.
To me, The Band’s revered songs, the talent line-up, and the philanthropic energy behind this collective effort will make The Next Waltz an undoubtedly positive experience.
As an added bonus, you can come out to Music Millennium Saturday, November 19th at 3 pm for a free, live, multi-artist preview of The Next Waltz and get your tickets (for only $19 including service charges) in one fell swoop.
Purchase tickets online here.
Artist Line-up for The Next Waltz
Zak Borden (Brazillionaires)
Jim Brunberg (LiveWire!, Mississippi Studios)
Emily Butler (Music Arcade)
Darrin Craig (Jackstraw)
Michael Dean Damron (I Can Lick Any SOB in the House)
Kris Deelane (SweetJuice)
The Don of Division Street
Adam East (Adam + Kris, Celilo)
Morgan Geer (Drunken Prayer)
Mir German (Miriams Well)
Dan Haley (Ed & The Boats)
Susan Harris (Flash Choir, Children’s Games)
Al James (Dolorean)
Miss Michael Jodell
Steve Kerin (Atomic Gumbo)
David Lipkind (Woodbrain, I Can Lick Any SOB in the House)
Joe McMurrian (Woodbrain)
The Parson Red Heads
BigE Schweiterman (Sugarcane, Ashbury Park)
Jeremy Wilson (Dharma Bums)
Jesse Young (Brethren Thread)
Lewi Longmire and the Crackers
The Paul Brainard Horns