CR Gruver The Last Waltz

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CR Gruver and friends to perform annual ‘The Last Waltz Revisited’ show

:: CR Gruver ::
:: with Polytoxic (acoustic) ::
:: Wash Park Grille :: November 19 ::
::The Last Waltz Revisited ::
:: Boulder Theater :: November 20 ::
:: with Polytoxic ::
:: Owsley’s Golden Road :: November 21 ::
:: The Last Waltz Revisited ::
::Cervante’s Masterpiece :: November 25 ::

By Brandon Daviet

When you are a borderline obsessive about music and have spent your whole life growing up in the shadows and alleyways of the same city, you tend to become a bit partial about your local music scene. In fact, without Denver’s slow-rising scene I wouldn’t be typing this for you now. Long ago, after complaining to a long forgotten local music magazine when Metallica skipped us on a pre-Black album tour the pen was thrust into my hand after said magazine offered me a job after reading my anti-cow-town screed. Seventeen years later, without much to show except a few good memories, a pickled liver and a slightly larger CD collection, the pen remains in my hand for better or worse. The fact is, I am still passionate about the health of the local scene and when I see a chance to point out something right within it I try to take time to mention it.

CR Gruver has helped set the bar for what a serious local musician can accomplish if they put the distractions aside and apply some elbow grease to the job. For years, and with several different projects, Gruver, a multi-instrumentalist but predominately keyboardist, has flourished in the Denver scene while helping to grow it. One of those projects which has blown up beyond expectations is his band Polytoxic’s yearly interpretation of the classic 1978 Martin Scorsese film and final 1976 concert of The Band known as The Last Waltz. The concert featured more than a dozen special guests including Eric Clapton, Muddy Waters, Neil Diamond, Neil Young and Ronnie Wood.

“Basically, my dedication to music comes down to two primary things, really. Artistically, it’s the opportunity and ability to play with all these different kinds of musicians who all have their own different style and different take on things and I’ve learned a lot that way,” said Gruver in a recent interview with The Marquee. “The other side of that, of course, is just the simple fact of trying to make a living and make ends meet as a musician, especially one for hire, you just try to get as many gigs as you can get.”

This year CR and his friends are expanding their performance of The Last Waltz to two nights: one here in Denver and for the first time one in Boulder. The event is the kind of thing that helps create a sense of community and, of course, it’s no surprise that Gruver had a part in the origin of the event that not only pays homage to the classic concert, but helps collect food for the Denver Rescue Mission as well.

“We [Polytoxic] got the DVD as a Christmas present one year and as we were watching — it was the first time I had ever seen it — we started to realize that we could make it one of our album of the month club,” said Gruver.

After the initial packed-to-the-rafters performance, the band quickly decided to make it a yearly tradition. “The original show that became the movie The Last Waltz was held the night before Thanksgiving. We did our first one in May and it was such a smashing success we just decided that it was so much fun and so successful that we would do it again the night before Thanksgiving at Cervantes, and that was such a smashing success that we just decided we would do it every year until people stop coming to see it,” said Gruver. “The charity thing was suggested by our production manager Gayor Geller in 2006. That was our second annual event and we just figured being around Thanksgiving we could bring it in to the Thanksgiving thing and help some of the people who were homeless or starving.”

While the event continues this year as usual, the local scene that supports it has changed radically. Just days before we talked with Gruver, Cervantes Ballroom co-owner and founder of Denver’s first true jamband haven, Quixote’s True Blue, Jay Bianchi, announced he was selling his flagship club as well as Cervante’s Masterpiece Ballroom, and Gruver recognized what that business transaction means to him and the scene. “I have mixed feelings about that because I know what those clubs meant to Jay, and the Bianchi family basically gave me my first chance in Denver,” said Gruver. “I feel like Jay is so passionate about music and wants so hard to make something special that he just does too much, and I think it’s kind of proven now to himself and to everyone around that he just spread himself too thin. So in one way it is good to see him narrowing his focus, but it is sad to see something that was such a staple of the Denver scene devolve a little bit. In the end, I see it as being a good thing and I think he will be able to do bigger things.”

:: CR Gruver ::
:: with Polytoxic (acoustic) ::
:: Wash Park Grille :: November 19 ::
::The Last Waltz Revisited ::
:: Boulder Theater :: November 20 ::
:: with Polytoxic ::
:: Owsley’s Golden Road :: November 21 ::
:: The Last Waltz Revisited ::
::Cervante’s Masterpiece :: November 25 ::

Recommended if you Like:
• The Band
• Polytoxic
• Levon Helm

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