A Driftless Tribute to The Last Waltz

The Last Waltz was originally performed forty-seven years ago on Thanksgiving Day as a celebration of the band called, “The Band.” Forty-six years later, at the La Crosse Center newly renovated ballroom, we have the 12-year anniversary of Deece Productions tribute of the concert, celebration, and documentary. The original concert started off as a farewell for The Band but quickly turned into a complete ensemble celebration of all types of music and musicians, from Neil Young to Bob Dylan to Muddy Waters to Neil Diamond. Thus, Deece Productions’ event also had faithful covers of all these classics by their own talented ensemble cost.

Originally, when I heard about this event, I did not know what it was or what it was about. I thought it was just going to be an event of people waltzing like there was no tomorrow. Good thing is, I didn’t need to know about it in order to enjoy the concert. After arriving at the La Crosse Center at about 6 pm, quickly greeted with the type of ambiance that foreshadowed the rest of the evening. Cold drinks, good people, and groovy music. The opening act, Nicholas David, set the mood as the one-man keyboard playing savant. The stage was lit up with multi-color lights, and Nicholas wore a multi-color poncho, making it feel like we were in his basement, listening to sultry tunes.

Nicholas played everything from classic medleys, which included “Riders on the Storm,” by The Doors, to his own original pieces of work. It was highly effective at setting the tone and mood of the rest of the evening.

After Nicholas was done giving us all the good vibes, the main show was set to start. This gave everyone ample time to stretch their legs and grab a refill before the resumption of the evening. The actual The Last Waltz portion was something that I have never quite seen before at a concert. Interspersed throughout the renditions of The Band’s songs by the cast of Gregg Cheech (Guitar/Vocals,) Lisa Freedlund (Keys/Vocals,) Eddie Juntunen (Vocals/Keys,) Tim Powers (Bass,) Ben Rohde (Drums,) & Adam Palm and pals (Horns,) were little clips of the actual film, The Last Waltz (this is when I figured out what was going on.) The stage was in the front middle of the ballroom and to both sides were large screen tv’s that played the clips, prompting who the next guest was. There were a multitude of guest performers, fifteen in total. Every single musician that was in the original film was also represented here 46-years later by a faithful rendition. From Christian Staehly as Ronnie Hawkins, to Stan Hall as Muddy Waters, to even the guest bands of Mr. Blink and the Craig Olson Project. There was no shortage of talent present here at The Last Waltz remix. Not quite as renowned as the original cast, but one could tell they were having just as much fun and just as much of a good time.

The concert in total ran about three to four hours from Nicholas David to the last song. There was plenty of space and room at the venue, with both a refreshment bar inside and outside the room. The first frame of both the documentary and also this event shows a simple sentence set against a black screen it reads, “This film should be played loud.” This show was loud, exactly how I would imagine The Band would want it to be. If it was too loud, I would recommend not sitting by the speakers. For a bit more than an Andrew Jackson, you get three to four hours of classic songs and a groovy, rock n roll, or bluesy time. Whatever one you are up for because they had it all! Also, you might just know them because of the original movie. If you haven’t seen it already, you can even watch the newly appointed Library of Congress and Martin Scorsese documentary “The Last Waltz” to judge how faithful of a tribute it is. Get your fix of live classic music from all over the country, even Canada, without even having to leave The Driftless!

By: Nolan Arentz        Photography by: Chris Walden


Make sure to check out this year’s Gregg Hall Wrecking Ball 10 year anniversary with Old Soul Society is also releasing a new album on the same night!! Saturday November 25, 2023.