Widely acclaimed as one of the finest movies about music ever made, The Last Waltz showcased an all-star tribute to the music of The Band -- whose drummer, Levon Helm, was born and raised in Arkansas, then hit the road with Ronnie Hawkins, another Arkie, who had moved to Canada. It was there that Hawkins assembled the band that eventually became The Band, but only after the quintet left Hawkins to back up Bob Dylan.
The 16 years of touring with Hawkins, Dylan and as The Band took its toll, and The Last Waltz was announced as a celebration to mark the grand finale of what had become endless touring. Music fans, of course, know that Helm got three of his four bandmates back together for a time and that love for the group's timeless songs has continued, especially in Helm's home state.
“Songs From The Last Waltz: A Benefit for KABF-FM, 88.3”
8 p.m. Saturday, White Water Tavern, West Seventh and Thayer streets, Little Rock
The continuing popularity of the music of The Band led one fan, R.J. Looney -- who can be heard as a DJ on community radio station KABF-FM, 88.3 -- to assemble a cast of local musicians to sign on as part of "Songs From The Last Waltz: A Benefit for KABF-FM, 88.3," which will be held at 8 p.m. Saturday at the White Water Tavern. Admission is a minimum $5 donation to KABF.
"This is the fifth benefit show of this sort that we've done," Looney says. "We did shows at either the White Water or South on Main that were tributes to Neil Young, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers and Sun Records, plus a show that focused on one album by The Rolling Stones -- Let It Bleed.
"There's been a lot of interest in this one, and the musicians have been busy rehearsing, I'm told. It's really great that so many folks are willing to donate their time and talents to the cause of community radio."
Participating local musicians and the song or songs they will perform include Amy Garland ("Evangeline"), The Salty Dogs ("The Shape I'm In"), Trey Johnson and Jason Willmon ("Mystery Train"), Mark Currey ("The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down"), Stephanie Smittle ("Coyote"), Isaac Alexander ("It Makes No Difference"), Bluesboy Jag & The Juke Joint Zombies ("Up on Cripple Creek" and "Further on up the Road"), Nick Brumley ("Ophelia," backed by Bluesboy Jag & The Juke Joint Zombies), The Wildflowers ("The Weight") and Fret & Worry, accompanied by Smittle ("Helpless").
Other participants include deFrance ("Life Is a Carnival," "Genetic Method"/"Chest Fever"), Pat McCrackin ("Caravan" and "Don't Do It"), Justin McColdrick ("Mannish Boy" and "Out of the Blue"), Brian Nehlan and Nick Devlin ("Four Strong Winds" and "Hazel"), Reade Mitchell ("Dry Your Eyes") and Mitchell with The Extraordinaires ("Rag Mama Rag.")
"I Shall Be Released" will be the finale.
The acclaimed Martin Scorsese movie of the 1976 performance (held Thanksgiving night at San Francisco's Winterland Ballroom and cost the then-hefty sum of $25 a ticket, which included dinner) was released after two years of editing, and the guests included Dylan, Hawkins, Young, Emmylou Harris, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, Eric Clapton, Muddy Waters and others.
Weekend on 01/21/2016