The Last Waltz 40th Anniversary Tour Wraps Up in D.C.

The Last Waltz 40th

Photo: By (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

In 1978, famed director Martin Scorsese released a concert film entitled The Last Waltz that has been hailed as one of the greatest rock and roll documentaries ever filmed. The concert and accompanying documentary revolved around the final show of The Band’s career. The Band had been touring for close to sixteen years at the time and bandleader Robbie Robertson wanted to retire the band from the road. However, the intent was to continue as a group releasing studio albums without having to go on tour to promote their releases.

The Last Waltz Concert was filmed in 1976 at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco. The film enjoyed great success at the box office and has continued to infiltrate the rock and roll musical landscape with its releases on VHS tape, DVD and a modern-day spectacular release on Blu Ray disc. The concert featured an array of well known and respected artists that have all since become even more legendary. Joining the Band on stage that one night in San Francisco were Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell,  Paul Butterfield, Ronnie Wood, The Staple Singers Emmylou Harris, Ringo Starr, Ronnie Hawkins, Bobby Charles, Dr. John, Muddy Waters,  Neil Diamond, Ringo Starr and the almighty blues pianist Pinetop Perkins.

The Band consisted of Levon Helms on drums and vocals, Rick Danko on bass and vocals, Richard Manuel on keyboards and vocals, Garth Hudson on keyboards, and Robbie Robertson on guitar and vocals. The horn section included Rich Cooper on trumpet, James Gordon on flute and tenor saxophone, Jerry Hey on trumpet, Howard Johnson on tuba, sax, and clarinet, Charlie Keagle on clarinet, Tom Malone on trombone, and Larry Packer on electric violin. With the size of the band, the amount of guest and sound and film crew, they must have had some food bill for the evening.

The Last Waltz concert recorded on Thanksgiving Day November 25, 1976, at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco has inspired many tribute concerts over the years by various artists. However, a tribute concert to The Last Waltz organized by Allman Brothers Band and Gov’t Mule’s lead guitarist Warren Haynes and legendary rock and roll producer Don Was developed into a Last Waltz 40th anniversary tour and celebration of the Last Waltz concert. The concert tour began in late January and ended on February 4th 2017. It was a short tour, but it left an amazing body of performances that are slowly starting to be spread around the internet.

The Last Waltz 40th Anniversary Tour featured Michael McDonald on keyboards and vocals, Warren Haynes on guitar and vocals, Terrence Higgins on drums, John Medeski on keyboards, Jamey Johnson on bass, Bob Margolin on guitar, Dave Malone on guitar and Don Was as Musical Director. The tour also featured many musical guests including Joan Osborne, Ivan Neville and original member of The Band Garth Hudson.

The tour began on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017 at the Hard Rock in Hollywood California. The tour made stops in Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York and Canada. The tour closed last night February 4th in Washington D.C.

The Last Waltz 40th Anniversary Tour  featured some of the greatest songs ever written performed by a select group of artists who have defined  the art of soulful singing and brilliance in performance. This is the type of music that our youth culture needs to hear. Hopefully this inspires some young artists to create music  of substance and heart instead of the pitiful pop music that has been released over the past few years.

Below are some great performances from the Last Waltz 40th Anniversary Tour.

It does not get any better than this. Michael McDonald sings lead on Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young” while Warren Haynes plays lead guitar. Unbelievable!

Listen to Joan Osborne sing perhaps the Band’s most legendary composition.

Joan Osborne, Warren Haynes, and Michael McDonald and band perform an incredible version of The Band’s The Weight.

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