"The Last Waltz" is a musical documentary of The Band’s last show on Thanksgiving Day, 1976, filmed and directed by a young Martin Scorsese. The Leftover Last Waltz is a Dec. 5 event at Cain’s Ballroom where the film is screened while folks eat a hearty Thanksgiving meal prepared by local restaurants. This year, it benefits the education initiatives of the Woody Guthrie Center.
We spoke with event founder Matthew Schultz before the very first Leftover Last Waltz back in 2014. We thought we’d catch up with him this year and see how it’s going.
This is the 8th annual Leftover Last Waltz. Tell us about the first one, how it came about and how it's evolved over the years.
The Leftover Last Waltz spawned out of my family's tradition of watching "The Last Waltz" every Thanksgiving. As I went to college, I would continue to watch it with my buddies and I got them really into it. Finally, I was showing this film to my great friend, Hunter Rodgers, explaining the importance of these musicians to rock ‘n’ roll and how crazy this event was back in 1976 and so on and he loved it...I mentioned the idea of playing this documentary in Cain's Ballroom and throwing a party after Thanksgiving where people brought their leftovers, and everyone would go around trying people's food and exchanging recipes. Well, for health purposes, that idea never really came together, but the idea that we could screen it in Cain's ballroom and raise money for something did.
I thought it would be great if a bunch of restaurants could come together and just add one dish to the meal. Then, it would be collaborative. I also wanted people to interact and have an experience, so we developed the backstage photo booth and collaborative pieces of art that everyone could participate in.
Every year a lot of the same people and vendors show up, along with some new ones, and we do it again. It's different from a typical fundraiser in that you aren't there to shake hands and network so much as you are just to hang out and enjoy music, art, and food.
Who's your favorite member of The Band and which is your favorite guest performance in the film?
Wow. It’s really hard for me to pick between Levon Helm and Rick Danko. Those two individuals give some of the best performances of some of the best Band songs at The Last Waltz. As far as my favorite guest performance, I would probably have to say Bob Dylan. The Band became something big because they were Dylan's backup band, so the significance of his performance to the musicians and the fans was huge. Also, Forever Young is very important to my family as it was played at my father's funeral when I was 11.
What can we expect from this year’s event?
Obviously, we will screen "The Last Waltz" on the stage of Cain's Ballroom on a massive screen. There will be a live performance from Pilgrim before the screening. The Thanksgiving buffet is put on by Burn Co., Blue Moon Cafe, East Village Bohemian Pizza, Mr. Nice Guys, the McNellie's Group, and Livi Lees Donuts. Photographer Landon Smothers is putting together an amazing photo booth experience for the attendees. Flash Flood Printing has created an amazing design for this year's LE Poster. And there will be tons of great auction/raffle items donated by great Tulsa artists and companies.