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.