‘The Last Waltz’ by The Band gets twin salute from Mrs. Henry
The classic 1976 live album and concert film by The Band have both been remade anew, in a loving tribute from the San Diego band Mrs. Henry.
San Diego’s Mrs. Henry is certifiably not the first band to pay tribute on stage to “The Last Waltz,” the classic triple-album and concert film recorded at the 1976 farewell concert by The Band that featured such prominent musical pals as Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Muddy Waters, Van Morrison and Neil Young.
Such tribute concerts have been held over the years in various American and Canadian cities. There was also “The Last Waltz 40 Tour: A Celebration of the 40th Anniversary of The Last Waltz,” a 2017 trek that included a San Diego show and featured three orignal “The Last Waltz” alums in former The Band organist Garth Hudson, guitarist Bob Margolin and Dr. John, who died on June 6.
But Mrs. Henry — none of whose members were born until the late 1980s — has added a welcome twist.
The four-man group appears to be the first band anywhere whose “The Last Waltz” tribute concert, held at the Belly Up in late 2017, has resulted in both a live album and a film documentary that are each carefully modeled after the original live album and film of 43 years ago. So much so, in fact, that the Belly Up concert was held on Nov. 26, 41 years and one day after The Band performed its “The Last Waltz” all-star farewell concert at San Francisco’s Winterland Ballroom.
The result, the heartfelt “Mrs. Henry presents The Last Waltz,” is available as a two-CD set and as a triple vinyl album package. Released by the San Diego indie record label Blind Owl, the CD and vinyl versions each boast covers whose design almost perfectly emulates the cover on the original “The Last Waltz” by The Band, right down to the type fonts, colors and design.
Both versions accompany the new concert documentary “Mrs. Henry presents The Last Waltz,” which will have its world premiere on Aug. 4 at the ninth annual Oceanside International Film Festival. The screening at the Brooks Theatre will be followed by an onstage Q&A with Mrs. Henry and an unplugged performance by the four-man band, whose next area appearance at the Casbah on Saturday will feature the group’s original material and a guest brass section.
The Casbah’s stage, alas, is too small to accommodate the several dozen musical guests who performed with Mrs. Henry for “The Last Waltz” at the Belly Up, where the musical guests included Nena Anderson, Clinton Davis, Schizophonics’ guitarist and singer Pat Beers, Louis XIV singer and guitarist Brian Karscig and members of the bands Taken by Canadians, Creature and The Woods, Trouble in The Wind, Pink Eye, Drug Hunt, The Routines, The Strawberry Moons, Sacri Monti and more.
Andrew Huse is especially notable for having divided his duties between playing violin on stage and serving as the movie’s director and one of its principal camera men. Huse also shared the bulk of the editing duties with Daniel Cervantes, Mrs. Henry’s guitarist and singer.
“The film and the album are absolutely a labor of love,” said Cervantes, who credits Belly Up talent buyer Chad Waldorf for asking Mrs. Henry to mount the project.
“It’s really a documentary about a documentary, but it’s more than that,” Cervantes continued.
“We also see it as being about the San Diego music scene and we hope it introduces more people outside of here to this melting pot of talented musicians that we are so lucky to have. It’s a way of saying: ‘Hey, you need to know about all these artists in San Diego, because they are all killing it!’ ”
Cervantes, 32, was 11 when he watched his father’s copy of “The Last Waltz” and was profoundly impacted.
He cites 2017’s Otay Fest music marathon as a template for Mrs. Henry performing with so many musical pals, even though that event did not feature any of “The Last Waltz” material. And he now hopes Mrs. Henry will be able to perform its version of “The Last Waltz” again this fall at the Belly Up, again with a cast of dozens of musical pals.
“This music is timeless,” Cervantes said. “It was great 43 years ago, and it’s great now.”
“It’s true,” agreed Oceanside International Film Festival Managing Director Lou Niles, who is also the veteran co-host of San Diego radio station 91X’s “Loudspeaker” show.
“Mrs. Henry’s movie is a testament to this great music — and to the terrific bands in San Diego who honor and can actually pull off such great songs and musicianship across the board.”
The Oceanside Film Festival officially opens Aug. 7 and runs through Aug. 11. It will feature nearly three dozen screenings.
However, because Cervantes will be on an East Coast tour with the band Howlin’ Rain, starting Aug. 6, the festival did some juggling to be able to show “Mrs. Henry presents The Last Waltz” before he leaves town.
“We were saddened at the thought of having the film be in the festival and not have Dan be there,” Niles said. “So we were lucky that the Sunshine Theatre had Aug. 4 open. The plan is for Mrs. Henry to sit on stools on stage and do four or five songs, in a semi-acoustic format, and also do a Q&A, which I’ll probably moderate.”
By coincidence, the Aug. 4. world premiere of “Mrs. Henry presents The Last Waltz” takes place a month and a day prior to the Sept. 5 world premiere of the new music film documentary “Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band” at Canada’s 44th annual Toronto Film Festival. Like the original “The Last Waltz” film 42 years ago, the new “Brothers” is being helmed by Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese
Cervantes had to obtain legal clearance and pay music copyright and publishing fees for each of the nearly three dozen songs performed in “Mrs. Henry presents The Last Waltz.” He plans to submit the movie to other film festivals.
“I had to contact Robbie Robertson (the former leader of The Band) directly through Facebook,” Cervantes said. “His publishing company pointed me to another publishing company, and they said: ‘Cool, send the check here.’ It was the same thing with Neil Young. There’s a music licensing company called Song File, where I purchased the majority of these (song) clearances.
“Because this is a limited release of 300 CD copies and5300 vinyl copies, they said: ‘You don’t need to fill out a form, just send a check!’ ”
Mrs. Henry, with Ten Bulls, The Ripening and The Anodynes
When: 9 p.m. Saturday
Where: The Casbah, 2501 Kettner Blvd., Middletown
Tickets: $10 at the door (must be 21 or older to attend)
Phone: (619) 232-4355
“Mrs. Henry presents The Last Waltz” world premiere at the Oceanside Film Festival
When: 6:30 p.m. Aug. 4
Where: Brooks Theatre, 217 North Coast Highway, Oceanside
Tickets: $15 (all ages)
Phone: (760) 433-8900
11:14 a.m. July 18, 2019: This article has been updated to add a reference to the new, Maryin Scorsese-helmed film, “Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band,” which will debut at Canada’s 44th annual Toronto Film Festival.
Sign up for the Pacific Insider newsletter
PACIFIC magazine delivers the latest restaurant and bar openings, festivals and top concerts, every Tuesday.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Pacific San Diego.