On Thanksgiving night 40 years ago, one of the most iconic concerts of all time took place in The Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco. The subsequent concert film documenting the event, “The Last Waltz,” became perhaps the best-known film of its kind.
The event was hosted by The Band, and featured a star-studded cast of some of the day’s best-known rock and folk performers, including Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Dr. John, Neil Young, among many. Though many of my readers were undoubtedly around at the time, I’m quite sure that very few if any were lucky enough to have attended the event. You can relive it this weekend, however, with a distinctly Vermont flavor.
On Sunday evening, Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center on the Mountain Road in Stowe will present “The Last Waltz Live,” an all-star recreation of the legendary concert film. The Rev Tor Band will stand in as The Band, with an array of Vermont performers, including Bow Thayer, Chad Hollister, Christine Malcolm and others. The show will feature renditions of all the blockbuster hits from the original show, including “The Weight,” “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” and “Up On Cripple Creek.” I don’t believe they’ll be serving Thanksgiving dinner before the show, and I doubt that the encores will be happening in the wee hours of the morning, but otherwise this is about as close as one can get to reliving a classic moment in rock ‘n’ roll history. Tickets for the 7 p.m. show $20-$45, and those and more information can be had by visiting www.sprucepeakarts.org.
There’s another celebration happening in Waterbury Center this weekend, this one celebrating the second anniversary of ZenBarn, the Guptil Road hotspot that has been booking some of the best talent our area has to offer since its inception. They are pulling out all the stops this weekend with a pair of shows celebrating their “ZENniversary.”
On Friday night, the Zen gets funky with the Grippo Funk Band plus special guests, among them Russ Lawton and Ray Paczkowski on drums and keys, respectively. Those two will also perform as their duo Soule Monde.
On Saturday night, it’s ZENniversary Part 2 featuring a performance by Massachusetts-based Bella’s Bartok. The band plays a mesmerizing mix of Eastern European, Americana, punk and pop music. Their live shows are theatrical, “a mix of ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ and the ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show,’” says frontman Asher Putnam. This one should be a lot of fun, and a perfect way for the Zen to celebrate two years of being in business. Tickets for both shows are $12 in advance and $15 day of show, and those and more info are available at www.zenbarnvt.com. Congratulations ZenBarn, and here’s to keeping the great live music going into the future.
Back in the capital city, Charlie O’s has live music as usual this weekend. On Friday night, The Slowcookers folk-out in the early slot at 6 p.m., followed by rockers Not Quite Dead at 9. Saturday night brings a trio of alt-punk bands to the back of the barroom when The Hate Girls, Putsch and I Love You play the land beyond the pool tables, once again starting at 9 p.m. As always, all shows at Charlie O’s are no cover affairs.
Perhaps Montpelier’s hottest live music spot, Sweet Melissa’s hosts acts nearly every night. The place has been hopping lately, so much so that they haven’t even gotten their November schedule up on their Facebook yet. The nightspot has developed a loyal following of regulars, however, so whatever is on the black box stage this weekend, it’s bound to have some attendance. Expect a nominal cover at the door for weekend shows at Sweets, except for live band karaoke on Sunday nights, which is always free.
Hopping over to the Granite City of Barre, Mingle on North Main Street primarily features DJs on the weekends in true urban-style nightclub fashion. Tonight, however, they’ll be featuring live music when longtime local blues man Blue Fox brings his band The Rockin’ Daddies to the Barre hotspot. Jam out to some rockin’ blues starting at 8 p.m.
Up the County Road from the capital in the bucolic village of Calais, the Whammy Bar hosts live music Thursday through Saturday each week. Tonight (and every Thursday) you can show your talents at open mic starting at 7 p.m.
On Friday night, The Brevity Thing takes the diminutive stage at 7:30 p.m., with Saturday bringing the powerful vocals of Bella and the Notables playing jazz standards, once again at 7:30 p.m. All shows at the Whammy are by donation, with all proceeds going to the artists.
That wraps up this week. Remember to go see live music. You never know when you might end up being part of history.