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Don Was on The Last Waltz 40 Tour Coming To Detroit Friday

Laura Weber Davis, WDET

Don Was with WDET’s Ismael Ahmed, who founded Detroit’s Concert of Colors

As a legendary musician, music producer, and President of Blue Note RecordsDon Was wears many important hats in the music industry, and in Detroit he’s a favorite son.

Was returns home Friday to the Fox Theater, this time touring as the bassist for the 40th anniversary of The Band’s “The Last Waltz”.

Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson speaks with Was about the tour’s origins and The Band’s impact on American music.

We started it a year ago at the New Orleans jazz festival,” says Was. “Last year, we wanted to pay a tribute to Allen Toussaint, who just recently passed away. And we thought, ‘well let’s play The Last Waltz and we’ll use Allen’s horn arrangements’… It’s more of a celebration of those songs.”

Speaking of celebration, Was also regularly participates in Detroit’s Concert of Colors. “Any time I play in Detroit it’s special,” he says.

It’s got a real nice, homemade human feel to it… It’s a world music festival. This is the indigenous music of Detroit.” Was explains that this is not very different from the connection The Band’s music makes with  its listeners.

I can see that it resonates everywhere… A lot of people say they’re like the founders of Americana music…but I think they go deeper than that. I think they’ve got something going on that’s kind of primordial. The way their songs are written, it triggers a deep emotional response. Certain harmonies resonate and they’ve tapped into that emotional spring of music… It’s impressionistic enough so everyone can pin their inner emotional lives on it.”

Don Was will perform alongside Garth Hudson (one of The Band’s two living members), Warren Haynes, Dr. John, and Jamey Johnson at the Fox Theatre on Friday, April 7 at 8 p.m.

To hear the full conversation, click the audio player above.

Image credit: Candice Fortman, WDET

About the Author

Detroit Today

Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.

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