With the 36th anniversary of the Last Waltz on the horizon, we saw another outstanding Jimmy Vivino led tribute over the weekend at the fabulous Keswick Theater in Glenside, PA. Jimmy did another masterful job bringing back to life the music he’s so passionate about.
While Jimmy did pick up his Resonator and Martin Acoustic Guitars for a few numbers as well as the mandolin, he remained on keyboards for most of the performance. Jim Weider and his 52 Fender Telecaster certainly didn’t need much help anyway. Jim Weider took over for Robbie Robertson when he left “The Band” and has captured Robbie’s style along with mixing in his own deft flair. Jim’s tone was impeccable. You could hear that sweet tone of his “Big T” neck pickup on the rhythmic passages but that screaming bridge pick up telecaster tone cut through when he took his leads.
One of the highlights of the evening was Garth Hudson, taking on the Keswick, 75 year old beast of a Pipe organ as a prelude to Chest Fever. Garth hovered over that instrument like it was part of him and ripped through a blend of Bach to “Roch”. The Organ is a local treasure (visit The Theatre Organ Society of the Delaware Valley for more info). Not too many musicians would be privileged enough to play it and Garth certainly fit that bill.
The vocal harmonies were sublime and evoked the essence of “The Band”. Jimmy channeled Richard Manuel on songs like “Rockin Chair”. And harmonizing with Byron Issacs on “Whispering Pines” sent chills down our spines. Randy Ciarlante on drums not only did a great job taking a lot of Levon Helm’s vocals but also reminding us of those signature downbeats from Levon. Randy had played with the re-formed “Band” for a number of years.
“Sister” Maud Hudson, Garth’s wife, did a few vocal and put her own signature on a heartfelt “It makes no difference”.
Once again I have to thank Jimmy Vivino for “keeping it going”, not just the Midnight Rambles but most importantly, the music.
Here’s Garth Hudson with the prelude to Chest Fever