Matt Andersen hoping to make new magic, memories as part of The Last Waltz Remembered

It remains one of rock music’s most iconic events.

The star-studded concert in San Francisco on Thanksgiving day in 1976 was the swansong of legendary musical act The Band, and would feature guest appearances by such luminaries as Bob Dylan. Muddy Waters, Neil Young, Eric Clapton, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, Neil Diamond, The Staple Singers and Dr. John.

It was recorded and filmed for posterity by one Mr. Martin Scorsese and has since become the benchmark for all concert films.

It was, of course, The Last Waltz.

Forty years later, an event hoping to recreate some of that magic will hit some soft-seaters across Western Canada, including Wednesday night at the Jack Singer Concert Hall.

The concerts, dubbed The Last Waltz Remembered, will feature a stunning collection of players under the direction of Calgary’s beloved Russell Broom and who will be backing a trio of vocal heavy-hitters — East Coast blues guitarist Matt Andersen, Alberta country king Corb Lund and singer-songwriter Amy Helm, who also happens to be the daughter of late, great Band drummer Levon Helm.

Prior to the run, Andersen spoke with theYYSCENE.

Q: I’m guessing for you to put your own career on hold for a few weeks, this must have been something that you were pretty passionate about?

A: Absolutely, it’s not about the individual once you get out there. I’m looking forward to going out there and celebrating this music. It’s a great band playing great material. And the audiences are going to love it … I think it’s going to be really special, it’s going to have a great vibe.

Q: How did you get involved with it?

A: I’m not really sure how that all came together. The promoters (Calgary-based Annerin Productions) are the ones who lined up the musicians for it and when I was asked I jumped on it right away — it didn’t take too much debate, really, before I wanted to do it. It was their brainchild and I’m thrilled to be playing in it.

Q: Let’s talk about your relationship with The Band and their music. I don’t know too many musicians who weren’t influenced by them and I’m guessing they were a pretty early influence for you.

A: Yes, for sure. The Last Waltz, when I was growing up my brothers had the tape, I remember those tunes always sounded good. And as I started to actually become a musician that’s something I listened to a whole lot. And The Last Waltz, itself, I think every musician probably has that in their DVD collection or has watched it multiple times at the very least. And I recorded my album (2011’s) Coal Mining Blues, I recorded that at Levon’s (studio in Woodstock, NY), which was really cool to go there, and I had Garth (Hudson) play on a track and Colin (Linden), who produced that, had played with The Band a bunch, and Amy came and sang on that one. So to go to Levon’s and record was a Canadian musician’s dream for sure.

Q: How tough is it playing these songs, because you want to be reverential to the material but you probably also don’t want to play them note for note and you want to put your own spin on them?

A: A little bit of both. I’m not worried about putting my own stamp on it. They’re band tunes, so everybody knows them. You don’t want to take them so far left field that it’s not what makes those songs great. The expression at home is: There’s a difference between scratchin’ your arse and tearing it to pieces. (Laughs) So you don’t want to get into that changing it so much that it’s not what was so great about it. So I’m sticking pretty true to things, I’m trying to not mess around with things too much. I think the band has learned the tunes so that we can go out and recreate the magic that The Band had, lots of collaborations, just doing the music.

Q: Which tunes are you taking the lead on?

A: Me, the songs I’m doing — I don’t know if I should answer that one or not, it kind of kills the surprise. (Laughs) But we’re doing a lot of those tunes from the actual Last Waltz, splitting up the leads on the tunes, a lot of collaborations. I mean, if you watch The Last Waltz, everybody’s on stage during the entire thing … We’re kind of going with that vibe, just upping the collaboration. And we’re all doing some of our own tunes as well, mixing it up a little bit.

I can’t wait to play with this band, too, it’s kind of a who’s who of great players.

Q: Yeah, with Russ Broom leading things, you know you’re going to get some quality playing.

A: I’ve actually met Russ before, but I went out with the Road Hammers a couple of times so the bass player Chris (Byrne) and the keyboard player Mike (Little), I’ve toured with them and I know their stuff for sure. And Joey Landreth is on the bill. It’s going to be a smoking band, there’s going to be no holes on that …

I think it’s going to come together really well. I mean, Amy has lived with these songs for years and Corb and I as well. For me it’s almost reminding myself of these songs as much as it is learning them.

The Last Waltz Remembered Takes place Wednesday at the Jack Singer Concert Hall. For tickets go to

Mike Bell has been covering the Calgary music scene for the past 25 years with publications such as VOX, Fast Forward, the Calgary Sun and, most recently, the Calgary Herald. He is currently the music writer and content editor for, and the co-host of the show Saved By the Bell, which airs Wednesdays from 4-6 p.m. on CJSW 90.9 FM. Follow him on Twitter/@mrbell_23 or email him at He likes beer. Buy him one.