The Last Waltz Revisited VII


CR Gruver continues thanksgiving tradition with The Last Waltz Revisited VII

:: The Last Waltz Revisited VII ::
:: Boulder Theater :: November 18 ::
:: Ogden Theatre :: November 23 ::

By Fallon Anderson


On Thanksgiving Day in 1976, a coked-up film director who had just scored massive success with his films Mean Streets and Taxi Driver, stepped away from the cityscape of New York and traveled to the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco to train his lens on a band for the first time.

Over the course of a nine-hour concert, which began with the audience of 5,000 being served turkey dinner, the still relatively young director helped to close one chapter of rock and roll, and to ultimately define every rock movie that ever followed.

The director was Martin Scorsese. The band was The Band, and the show they played that night was the last they ever did with that classic lineup. The film The Last Waltz captures the show, as hordes of musicians showed up to help The Band say goodbye. Neil Young, Neil Diamond, Eric Clapton, Joni Mitchell, Emmylou Harris, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Muddy Waters, Ronnie Wood, Paul Butterfield, Dr. John, a seven-piece horn section, and master of ceremonies Bill Graham joined the five members of The Band onstage for the end-all, be-all of epic nights.

While most of the population can only relive that night on DVD these days, Denver gets a special treat each Thanksgiving, and this year the Front Range has something to be thankful for yet again. For the seventh straight year, CR Gruver and Polytoxic, along with dozens of other local musicians, will team up to bring their version of the famous night — The Last Waltz Revisited VII.

“The songs that The Band wrote are unbelievably good, so you start with a foundation of a song that everyone can relate to,” Gruver explained in a recent interview with The Marquee. “It also is the charisma and the character of these musicians.”

Showcasing not only Polytoxic as the heart of ‘the band,’ this year’s revisiting will include over 40 local musicians ranging from bluegrass babes to a full horn section. Featuring members of bands like Phix and Elephant Revival, the cast of characters is always growing while remaining comfortably familiar. “People have kind of fallen into their niche as far as the strength they bring,” said Gruver. “It’s been kind of an organic evolution. It’s one of those things that all we are is just a bunch of local guys playing music together, but something happens on the night of the show that it becomes more than just us,” said Gruver. “Something magical happens. I can’t tell you exactly what it is.”

Gruver started the local tradition in 2005, as a way to get all the musicians he was regularly playing with on one stage. The first Last Waltz Revisited was performed at Dulcinea’s 100th Monkey (the bar and music venue on Colfax Ave. that is now known as Pete’s Monkey Bar). The event sold out in minutes, to the surprise of even the band and the promoter. With such success, all of the musicians re-assembled at Cervante’s Masterpiece Ballroom the night before Thanksgiving, and a local tradition was born.

For veterans of the show, new entities are sure to keep the event fresh. This year’s event boasts over 40 guests and more than 30 songs from The Band’s catalog. Gruver and company have plans to bring in a mandolin player for the first time this year and will pull songs from places fans may not expect. This year will also feature a new opening act that fits with the Thanksgiving theme, as Buck Perigo will play Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant” in its entirety.

And while the event has proven to be a great night for the musicians, it is also a chance for them to give back to the community which has supported them: the shows will support the Denver Rescue Mission. Not only will they be contributing a portion of ticket revenue, but any attendee who donates seven or more cans of food will receive a limited edition poster only attainable by helping the cause.

“It’s really a community-based kind of show, all the musicians are local. It’s kind of a way to showcase the talent there is at the local level,” Gruver said. “These friends of ours come up one by one and bring the house down.”

While Gruver is a full-time New Orleans musician these days, the new acts that constantly come out to support this event helps to make The Last Waltz Revisited one of his favorite shows of the year. “There’s something about The Band where their music is more than just six guys on stage,” said Gruver. “I couldn’t do it by myself. Everyone’s little contributions make something that is bigger and The Band is a perfect example of that. I do it because music for me is an amazing, beautiful, sacred experience. It’s something I’ve dedicated my life to.”



:: The Last Waltz Revisited VII ::

:: Boulder Theater :: November 18 ::

:: Ogden Theatre :: November 23 ::


Recommended if you Like:

• The Band

• Neil Diamond

• Neil Young

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