By Steve Graham
School’s out on Thanksgiving weekend, but you can still learn about both music history and the local music scene.
On Friday, Nov. 29, Washington’s will host a second local edition of Last Waltz Again, with a showcase of northern Colorado talent playing tribute to the farewell concert by The Band. The original show was on Thanksgiving night in 1976, and it featured a stellar lineup of guest musicians. It also was captured for posterity on perhaps the greatest concert film of all time, Martine Scorcese’s “The Last Waltz.”
More than 40 local musicians are collaborating for the Fort Collins show, including 16 new additions who didn’t play last year.
Dave Wisbon, who plays in the Waido Experience, Switchman Sleepin’, and the Wendy Woo Band, will play keyboards and sing in the show. Dave said he leaped at the opportunity to re-create one of his favorite films.
“The Scorcese movie is something I have watched at least three or four times per year,” Wisbon said.
However, he said the songs are all so famous that the pressure is high for the musicians.
“They are songs that everybody knows, and as musicians, you have heard them all their lives, so you think you know how to play them,” Wisbon said. “But they are pretty deep, intricate songs, and everybody knows them, so you have to get them right. You have to get all the intricacies and nuances right.”
For many years, Boulder and Denver have each hosted Last Waltz tribute shows on Thanksgiving weekend, but Wisbon said it is past time for Fort Collins to host its own showcase.
Jason Eckman, formerly of Switchman Sleepin’, organized the Last Waltz Again both last year and this year.
“The Band is really one of my all-time favorite bands,” Eckman said. “I just think it’s a great concert film. I started watching it when I was 14 or 15, so I’ve been watching it for 20 years now as part of my Thanksgiving traditions.”
He said he also wanted a chance to showcase northern Colorado musicians.
“Knowing that Fort Collins has a Last Waltz is another notch in our belt, if you will, that we have a great, thriving local music scene,” Eckman said.
Stout Studios owner and producer Darren Radach will play drums and mandolin for the Last Waltz show. He also hosts most of the show rehearsals. He said the show last year created lasting musical collaborations.
“It’s about the friendships and relationships that come about through the whole process,” he said.
Singer-songwriter Jeff Finlin said he is excited to re-create a piece of classic music history.
“It’s just a spectacular presentation of all that music from the 70s. It’s always been a big part of my heart and my musical history,” Finlin said. He is returning to the stage for his second year and playing Bob Dylan’s parts from the original show, feathered hat optional.
He said he grew up playing songs by The Band and is excited to play those with his friends and some local legends.
“We did it last year, and it was a great community effort,” Finlin said. “It brought the whole Fort Collins community together.”
He also admits to another motivation for playing the show.
“By Friday, we’re all sick of our in-laws and our relatives, so it’s a great excuse to exit stage left and really enjoy the holidays,” Finlin said.