Preview: Music Movie Monday — The Last Waltz

The Canadian-American group known as The Band were among the most important acts of their time. Getting their big break as the backing group for Bob Dylan, The Band would pioneer in the creation of the style of music now known as Americana. But their music has always transcended genres. Their vivid lyrical imagery, passionate vocals and sympathetic instrumental work created a raft of classics.

But the group was always fraught with internal tensions, and by 1976 – just eight years after releasing their groundbreaking debut Music From Big Pink – they decided to call it a day. But The Band went out in style, mounting a concert event that included an all-star lineup of special guests. Though it wasn’t promoted at the time as a farewell concert, The Last Waltz (as it came to be known) signaled the end of the group. But that concert extravaganza featured the band at its peak, along with performances by a staggering lineup: Ronnie Hawkins, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Ringo Starr, Paul Butterfield, Muddy Waters, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Neil Diamond, Dr. John the Night Tripper, Eric Clapton, the Staple Singers and more, individually and collectively serving up a cross-section of American musical forms.

The whole ten-hour affair was filmed by director Martin Scorsese and a team of cameramen. When the finished movie was released to theaters nearly 18 months later, it was a box office success. The Last Waltz quickly gained status as one of the greatest concert films ever made, a reputation it maintains to this day. A contemporary digital restoration – sharpening sound and imagery – has only improved it.

As part of the Music Movie Mondays series, Grail Moviehouse in Asheville hosts a special one-night-only showing of the film. Presented by Asheville-based speaker, author and music journalist Bill Kopp (that’s me), the evening will include a screening of the film followed by an interactive discussion.

WHAT: Music Movie Mondays Series: The Last Waltz
Special screening + moderated discussion hosted by Bill Kopp
WHERE: Grail Moviehouse, 17 Foundy Street, Asheville
WHEN: Monday, Feb. 12 @ 7 p.m. / Tickets are $15 and likely to sell out!