A LEGEND, A LEGACY: ALLENTOWN
Following the death of New Orleans music legend Allen Toussaint on Nov. 10, tributes rolled in from around the world. And rightly so: Few Crescent City artists have left as sprawling an influence as Toussaint, the prodigious jazz and R&B pianist, producer and composer. To many, he was arguably better known for penning and producing other artists' hits (Lee Dorsey's Working in the Coal Mine and Labelle's Lady Marmalade, among others). But to musicians, he was a hero. Paul McCartney called him "a massive songwriting talent," while the Roots' Questlove wrote: "This dude wrote some of your favorite music and you just didn't know it." No city does a better job than New Orleans of preserving its musical heritage, and so it shall be with Toussaint, whose disciples won't let his legacy dim. Across the Gulf of Mexico, four concerts in Tampa Bay this weekend prove just how pervasive his touch was.
'The Last Waltz'
Toussaint arranged the horn charts for the final concert by Americana icons the Band, documented in Martin Scorsese's 1978 documentary The Last Waltz. Thursday, area musicians will convene at Crowbar (1812 N 17th St., Ybor City) for a screening of that film, followed by a live re-creation of its soundtrack. Assuming the role of the Band are Bradenton's Have Gun, Will Travel, joined by artists playing Bob Dylan (Will Quinlan), Neil Diamond (Aaron Lepley), Neil Young (Mark Etherington), Joni Mitchell (Shae Krispinsky), Van Morrison (Thomas Wynn), Emmylou Harris (Rebekah Pulley), Eric Clapton (Shawn Kyle), Muddy Waters (Ernie Locke) and others. One of the greatest concert films ever, followed by a one-night-only collection of local all-stars? Sign us up. The film is at 7:15 p.m.; the concert is at 9:30. Tickets are $10-$12. Get details at facebook.com/brokenmold.
You can't talk about N'awlins music without talking about N'awlins funk, and you can't talk about N'awlins funk without talking about Dumpstaphunk. Led by Hammond B3 wizard Ivan (son of Aaron) Neville and his cousin Ian on guitar, Dumpstaphunk is either a funk band for jam fans or a jam band for funk fans, take your pick. That elasticity has made Ivan Neville a frequent sit-in guest at New Orleans' Jazz Fest, including gigs with the Meters, Robert Randolph and, of course, the Neville Brothers. On Friday, Dumpstaphunk will hit Ybor City at 9 p.m. at Crowbar, 1812 N 17th St. Tickets are $17-$20 at facebook.com/brokenmold.
Speaking of The Last Waltz: Mavis Staples and her family band, the Staple Singers, also appeared in the film, joining the Band on their biggest hit, The Weight. Hopefully, the legendary soul singer will share that one Sunday in Clearwater — or, better yet, maybe she'll do her high-energy take on Toussaint's Last Train. Or maybe, she'll grace us with Sly and the Family Stone's Everyday People, which she sang on the first episode of The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. Of course, a legend like Staples can sing whatever she wants. Joining her at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St. in Clearwater, is Joan Osborne, a singer with far more grit and soul than folks only familiar with her 1995 hit One of Us might realize. She, too, has a great Toussaint cover, Shoorah! Shoorah!, from 2012's Bring It On Home. Actually, here's what we're really hoping for: a chance to hear Staples and Osborne sing something, anything, together. Tickets are $39.50 and up at (727) 791-7400 or rutheckerdhall.com.
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Grammy-winning pianist George Winston grew up all over the map — born in Montana, he attended high school in Miami and at Stetson University in DeLand — but in a way, his heart has always been in New Orleans. You might not always know it from his gentle piano compositions, which led him to be dubbed the Father of New Age Music, but he was profoundly influenced by Gulf Coast pianists like Professor Longhair, Dr. John and Toussaint. "He was New Orleans, but he was beyond," Winston said during a phone interview, two days after his friend Toussaint died in Spain. "He was just music itself." As kind of a historian of the American folk musical canon — he considers his melodic piano suites more folk than new age, and he has recorded two albums inspired by and benefiting the Gulf Coast — Winston's shows feature not only his own introspective works, but also songs by his idols, including Peanuts pianist Vince Guaraldi. Keeping their songs alive has become a big reason he does what he does, especially in the case of a late legend like Toussaint. "If this had happened 10 years ago, this would've been way more of a tragedy," Winston said. "At least the last 10 years, people got to know him much more. At least that happened." Tickets to Winston's concert Sunday at the Palladium, 253 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg, are $22.50 and up. Call (727) 893-7832 or see mypalladium.org. For more of our interview with George Winston, click here.