Concert pays tribute to The Band

Karl Raubenheimer, Jimmy Hick, Mark Armstrong and Kerr Sharpe-Young will lead the tribute to The Band.
Karl Raubenheimer, Jimmy Hick, Mark Armstrong and Kerr Sharpe-Young will lead the tribute to The Band.

A group of Taranaki musicians are taking their inspiration from one of the world's most influential rock bands and the landmark movie which captured their last performance.

Four New Plymouth musicians have come together to organise a night of classics and creativity and discuss it over a pint of beer - with a quick jam session thrown in.

New Plymouth trio The Blistered Fingers, along with Mark Armstrong from The Slacks, have brought together 20 musicians from around the region, complete with a horn section and backup singers, to pay homage to The Last Waltz, The Band's final performance in 1976.

The Taranaki event is called Winter's Last Waltz, and The Blistered Fingers bassist Jimmy Hick said they were hoping that the night would be more than just a gig but a night to remember.

"It's an occasion, not just an average gig. Most people just leave the stage as it is, but we're going all out decorating it. We've got props from the Operatics Society and we're going to the op shops to get our outfits for the night."

A core band will cover nine songs from The Band's ultimate performance, with local acts performing in between the sets, Hick said.

Event co-director and The Slacks vocalist Mark Armstrong said it was about paying tribute to The Band.

"It's the same thing as their concert, but on a micro scale. People should come dressed up and make a night of it - we're going to."

The Band's last hurrah saw them perform with artists they had played for and with over the years, including Neil Young and Bob Dylan.

Hick said their bands had played a lot of similar music in New Plymouth pubs over the last couple of years and this event was a chance for them, and the audience, to get a bit nostalgic.

"We're big fans of the concert [The Last Waltz]. Because it was The Band's last performance, all their musical friends came along, too, like Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Johnny Cash.

"It was like a big jam session and we're trying to re-create that, but everything we're doing is deliberate."

Hick said over the last couple of years, the region's music scene has had a revival of old school music, and as well as The Band's music they will including covers from the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac and the Beatles in a homage to some of the greats from that era.

"It's the type of music we're into anyway. It's music where you can listen to the full album and the whole album is good," he said.

The musicians are all from the Taranaki region, having met each other through busking, open mic nights and pub performances over the last couple of years, Hick said.

"You just meet so many musicians going around. We could've asked about 50 people who we would've wanted to play with," he said.

After two months of rehearsing, the show is coming together for this Saturday night, despite the amount of creativity and ideas being thrown around the stage, Hick said.

"It's a chance for them to work with a bigger band and re-imagine their own music on a bigger scale."

"We're musicians - at the best of times we're fairly slack but this couldn't have been done without all of their hard work."

The Band was a Canadian- American roots rock group. While members were regular session musicians for big names in the early 60s, they began performing officially as The Band in 1968, and went on to release 10 studio albums. Dylan continued to collaborate with The Band over the course of their career, including a joint 1974 tour.

The original configuration of The Band ended its touring career in 1976 with an elaborate live ballroom performance featuring numerous musical celebrities. This performance was immortalised in Martin Scorsese's 1978 documentary, The Last Waltz.


Winter's Last Waltz The Mayfair. Saturday, October 18. Tickets are $40 from The Mayfair, or if you're able to track down someone from the performance then they're $30 for one ticket or $50 for two.

Taranaki Daily News