Rock history revived

LAKE PLACID – You may have watched it a million times at home, but now it’s time to see it live. Don’t worry – you can still sing along.

A variety of local and regional musicians will take to the Lake Placid Center for the Arts stage tonight to perform a live version of The Band’s “The Last Waltz,” the popular rock band’s farewell concert that featured a string of noteworthy guest artists.

Rev Tor, based in the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts, will act as the core band, as The Band did in the original concert. Rev Tor has played the area a number of times, starting in Saranac Lake at Shue’s, now Captain Cook’s, and graduating to the Waterhole. They’ve also played at Wiseguys in Lake Placid.

“We love it up there,” Tor Krautter, Rev Tor’s frontman, said. “It’s a great community of people.”

They will be joined by local musicians including Kevin Sabourin and Lowell Wurster of Lucid, Lowell’s father George Wurster, Sarah Curtis and Shamim Allen of Crackin’ Foxy, Theresa Hartford, Todd Mack, Jason Brill, Jennifer FamilyJones Schultheis, Russ Cook and Brad Hurlburt of Roadside Mystic, and Fred Gillen Jr.

“We don’t announce ahead of time who’s doing what song; we like that to be a surprise,” Krautter told the Enterprise in a Wednesday phone interview. “So it’s fun to see the reaction sometimes when a person comes out to do a particular song. That’s part of the fun of it.”

Krautter said other musicians are often excited to participate. He finds many of them were seriously influenced by The Band, just as he was.

“Myself and my buddies in the band are all huge fans of The Band, and we’re all very familiar with the movie,” Krautter said. “I, as a teenager, was kind of obsessed with it. I would pop it in the VCR about once a week.”

Krautter said they stick to the same set list as the Martin Scorsese movie (rather than the original 1976 concert or album of the concert, which were much longer), but they don’t necessarily stick to the same gender roles as the performers in the movie.

“We don’t ask anyone to do an impersonation,” Krautter said. “We ask everyone to sing the songs in their own voice and with their own vibe. Generally I look for someone who would do a kick-ass job with that song, and they don’t necessarily have to sound like Van Morrison and Neil Young to get it.”

That keeps it fresh and fun each time they perform it, Krautter said. Rev Tor has done this performance in a number of places, and Krautter said it’s always different because each community brings their own vibe to the concert.

Krautter said his band first performed the concert last year at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, Mass.

“It was right after Levon Helm had passed away,” Krautter said.

He said Rev Tor was just going to perform some Band tunes, but there were so many people in the community who wanted to be part of the show, “all of a sudden we realized, ‘Why don’t we just do The Last Waltz?'”

One of their guests was Todd Mack, who runs a charity called Music in Common. Mack told them the concert was in the same spirit as the charity, and so Rev Tor teamed up with him to perform similar Last Waltz concerts all over the place, using local musicians at each stop, to raise money for Music in Common.

All the proceeds from the concert will go to fund Music in Common’s programs, which strive to educate and connect people through music. The groups does things like going to areas of conflict in the Middle East and getting Israeli and Palestinian kids together to put aside their differences and put on a concert or make a record together, Krautter said.

“It builds bridges, and that’s what they’re all about,” he said. “I’m a big admirer of what they do, and it’s one of the reasons we were so excited to get involved.”

In each location where they perform “The Last Waltz,” Krautter said it takes about a month to arrange the lineup.

He said they usually start with Web searches of area musicians on sites like ReverbNation and YouTube, and the local venues often supply a list of local talent. They go through a sort of online audition process, listening to each musician and figuring out who could do a good job with each song.

Krautter said he looks forward to performing with all the local musicians tonight.

“We’re lucky to live inside everybody’s music community just for one night and get to experience what it’s all about,” Krautter said.