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'The Last Waltz' to Screen at FitzGerald's

Legendary documentary will screen to honor the musical life of Levon Helm.

Ashes of laughter/the ghost is clear/Why do the best things always disappear? — The Band, "Ophelia"

To honor the recently departed Levon Helm, FitzGerald's will screen The Last Waltz, Martin Scorsese's acclaimed documentary that follows The Band as they perform for the final time at San Francisco's Winterland Ballroom in 1976. The event will take place May 3 at 8 p.m. at Fitzgerald's, 6615 Roosevelt Road in Berwyn.

Helm, the raspy-throated drummer and talented musician who influenced everyone from Bob Dylan to Wilco, died April 19 after a bout with cancer. He was 71.

Assuming someone over at Fitzgerald's was a fan of Helm and The Band, we placed a quick call over to find out a little more.

"Oh, God yeah. Big fan," said Bill Fitzgerald. "We actually had Rick Danko play here. Garth Hudson played here with a group, he was a side man in a band. I always imagined this was the kind of place The Band would've liked to play. It's dark and wooden and all that.

"When The Last Waltz came out, I think I bought about 30 tickets in advance. I just couldn't wait."

Prior to the screening Patrick Brennan, a Chicago-based musician, writer, composer and Band aficionado will present about 30 minutes of Band footage with a special focus on Levon Helm.

"Just some rare stuff that he thinks would be appropriate for the tribute," Fitzgerald said. "Then we'll get into the film. We'll have the sound all cranked up. We've got the movie on Blu-Ray so it will look good and sound real good.

"Nice and loud."

Fan of Levon Helm? Don't miss the New York Times obituary or his 2007 interview with Terry Gross on NPR's Fresh Air.

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