On Thanksgiving night, 1976, the Band gathered all their famous friends together for one last hurrah before calling it quits. The show was billed as the end of the Woodstock era, but 30 years later the reverberations of that star-studded jam still haven't faded away. The concert, dubbed "The Last Waltz," became legend; then it became a Martin Scorsese documentary (re-released on super hi-def Blu-ray earlier this year—all the better to see that coke rock in Neil Young's nose during "Helpless"); then it became fodder for tribute shows all over the country. Reenactment fever hit the Twin Cities last year, when more than a dozen local roots-rockers entreated a sea of Caboozers to dry their eyes, take a load off Fanny, and otherwise remain forever young. This year the party spills over to Saturday and features Dan Israel as Bob Dylan, Paul Metsa as Eric Clapton, Tim Mahoney as Van Morrison, plus many others. City Pages caught up with Rob Hilstrom, normally of the Melissa Moser Band and LRO but tonight playing the role of the Band's keyboardist Richard Manuel, for his thoughts on the festivities.
City Pages: What is it about The Last Waltz that gets folks in such a tizzy?
Rob Hilstrom: It encompasses the end of an era and the beginnings of Americana music. These are our heroes in their glory. We wanted to do something that the older and younger generations could enjoy.
CP: How did you go about casting the show? Did anyone fight over who gets to be Neil Diamond?
RH: We tried not to leave anybody out. There's so much talent in this town. More people want to be Dylan or Neil Young, of course.
CP: What's your favorite moment from The Last Waltz?
RH: When Clapton's guitar comes off and Robbie [Robertson] takes over with a better solo. And of course Neil Young and his nose—which we will try to reenact in full!
A Tribute to the Last Waltz
8:00 p.m. Friday, January 5 and Saturday, January 6
917 Cedar Ave S, Mpls.; 612.338.6425