THE LAST WALTZ ENSEMBLE
At 10 p.m. Saturday, April 2
Loco's Grill & Pub, 301 W. Broughton St. $8
This six–member, Atlanta–based band devotes itself to music written by and/or performed by Bob Dylan and the Band. Sometimes, it’s just Dylan tunes. Sometimes, it’s just Band tunes. Sometimes, it’s something else entirely.
The LWE looks for, and finds, the unifying thread in everything from “Maggie’s Farm” to “Evangeline.” And as anyone who cherishes this classic, nascent Americana will tell you, that thread is most definitely there.
Not surprisingly, founder Kris Gloer – lead guitar and vocals – started life as a dedicated Deadhead (hint: look there for another part of the thread). “In 1985, I did my first summer Dead tour,” says Gloer, who recently moved to Hilton Head. “They were playing with Dylan. I really liked the way the songs were jamming, the way they would jam on the Dylan tunes. The lyrical content is something I really need. I can’t go for the noodle–fest or just jamming for too long, I need a little story before somebody ricochets into the fiery solo. Then bring me back with some more lyrics.
“So then I was a Deadhead and a Dylan–head. And I discovered the Band along the way, from several different outlets. One, the Jerry Garcia versions of a lot of those Band tunes, and listening to those Band tunes, all of that music was inter–twining. And I went to see Rick Danko one night at the Variety Playhouse.”
Over Thanksgiving 2004, Gloer and his band Hound Dog put on a one–off show to pay tribute to the Band’s concert film The Last Waltz, even throwing in the Neil Young, Van Morrison and Joni Mitchell tunes.It sold out, and became an annual success in Atlanta, which led to the name change, and the current incarnation of the ensemble.
With more than 100 songs in the repertoire, The Last Waltz is now only part of the picture. They even perform songs that Dylan and/or The Band never actually played live. “That way, you’re taking a little bit of something borrowed, something blue and just taking it to the next place that it may have gone to,” says Gloer.
The group is often joined onstage by members of the thriving Atlanta jam–band scene, and this Savannah show will find them fleshed out with, direct from New Orleans, several members of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band’s exquisite horn section.
The LWE has a new album out, New Orleans Jokerman, that combines both elements: Big Bob and the Big Easy. “Themes,” Gloer says, keep the idea fresh and the musicians excited.
The Savannah show, he adds, will be something special. “We’ve started with a base of 25 Dylan and Band tunes, and then we’ve got four or five specials which are New Orleans–flavored tunes.
“We’re going to throw in a couple of Professor Longhair tunes. Because Jason, our piano player, is a monster.”