In years past I’ve covered the Slates’-based performance of “The Last Waltz,” where local musicians recreate the famous gig The Band played back in the 70s when they ended their touring career. The artists performing include Tim Sullivan, Robbie Coffin, Bob Colwell, Justin Maxwell, Steve Vellani, Dick Hollis, Pat Colwell, Josh Robbins and Katie Daggett. In a recent interview, Daggett filled me in on the new twist that the Hallowell gang is putting on their popular show this year — they are taking it on the road!

Daggett: When Slates down-sized we couldn’t fit the show in that venue anymore. So this year we’re amping it up starting at the end of September, the 29th, at the Chocolate Church Arts Center.

Q: How many shows will you be doing this year?

Daggett: We’ll be doing four. The first at the Chocolate Church, then on Nov. 21 at the Portland House of Music the night before Thanksgiving, because “The Last Waltz” was actually filmed on Thanksgiving night. That’s why we kind of try to keep it around that time of year, it was The Band ending its touring career in 1976. And then we’ll do two shows at Johnson Hall in Gardiner Friday the 23rd and Saturday the 24th.

Q: So this has really branched out.

Daggett: It really has.

Q: Now how long has this production been going on?

Daggett: We started in 2011. It was mostly the Hallowell musicians coming together back in 2011.

Q: Have you been doing it the whole time?

Daggett: Yes, I’ve been involved with it since the beginning and I am Joni Mitchell and Emmylou Harris, and I then sing back-up throughout the evening, as well.

Q: Well, a couple of years ago back when I interviewed Bob (Colwell) he suggested that I get the Blu-ray version of the movie and I must admit that seeing the entire show is much more rewarding than just listening to the vinyl or even the compact disc set.

Daggett: I know what you mean, I love watching the movie — I do usually before we get going — just to get the feeling again.

Q: What’s it like trying to channel two such iconic singers like Emmylou and Joni?

Daggett: I try, yes (laughter), and it’s never the same, but it always comes out, it always works. You get the feel of it and we just have fun with it. We all love the music so it makes it really fun.

Q: Is it pretty much the same people that have been doing it since 2011?

Daggett: Yes, the core groups is definitely the same.

Q: How long does the show run?

Daggett: We play straight through, so it’s close to two hours.

Q: Now, you’re not on stage the entire time, or are you?

Daggett: I am not. I mean, not normally. I’m two of the guest performers they try to introduce onto the stage. I think my first appearance happens when Neil Young sings “Helpless” and I’m kind of off to the side doing the Joni Mitchell back-ups because she was off the stage.

Q: Wow, you’re keeping this right true to the film — that’s cool.

Daggett: Yeah, the only thing we don’t have is the wigs and all that, at this point.

Q: Yeah, that might be pushing it a little too far, it is the music that counts.

Daggett: And the music is great. The guys are great musicians, you can’t go wrong with that whole crew, they nail it.

Q: Have you ever heard anything from the members of The Band themselves about the show?

Daggett: No. I think this may happen in other communities right around Thanksgiving, sort of a tribute band kind of thing. We’re excited, we love doing it and I’ve loved being part of it for seven years.

Q: Well, may it run for seven more, if not longer.

Daggett: We will certainly keep it alive.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to pass on to the readers concerning this year’s series of performances?

Daggett: What we’d love for them to do is come on out and see “The Last Waltz.” The people who are Band fans really seem to know about it and (although) Slates has been a great little venue for it, I think these new venues will be great as well.

Lucky Clark, winner of a 2018 “Keeping The Blues Alive” Award, has spent 49 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

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