Interview: 40 Dollar Fine (Band Tribute) Talks Watkins Glen Jam at Villain & Saint

The Band tribute, 40 Dollar Fine, recently spoke with us about their upcoming show at Villain & The Saint on Saturday, May 14th (Tickets & Event Info). The band will be performing the The Band’s Watkins Glen set in its entirety.

The band was the working mans band. What themes do you think people most identify with in their lyrics?

Bruce Moyer: I don’t know if it’s themes so much as the characters they created to sing their songs.  But perhaps the best theme can be stated this way – Life can be very  hard, and it can also be just as much fun.

Paul Pisciotta: Inventing Americana. Surprising for a mostly Canadian band. Arkansan Levon Helm had a lot to do with that.

The Last Waltz is one of the most cinematic music masterpieces of all time, how does this particular movie showcase the Band in all of their glory?

Bruce Moyer: I think the cast of extras that joined them onstage said as much as anything about their respect from their peers, a celebration. By the way, 40 Dollar Fine takes part in an annual tribute show to The Last Waltz.  This November will be our fifth year running and will be at The Hamilton and possibly one other venue, TBD.
Paul Pisciotta: It’s a great piece of musical history, but not a great movie. It was a well recorded, well played performance.

What’s your fondest memory of seeing The Band live?

Bruce Moyer: One of our members was indeed at the Watkins Glen Festival. I think that would be it – the fact that he was part of that amazing event.

Paul Pisciotta: I was there, but can’t remember.

What’s the best album they made and why? 

Bruce Moyer: For myself, I would say the first album, Music From Big Pink, because it introduced us to their sound, which in the midst of hard rock, and guitar virtuosos of the day that sang about nothing particular profound, The Band sounded like no other. That was a long sentence.

Paul Pisciotta: My favorite is The Band. Wonderful showcase of all their styles and moods. Seemed like a very personal album.

What’s the most underrated song by The Band?

Bruce Moyer: I would say “It Makes No Difference” from the Northern Lights Southern Cross album.

Paul Pisciotta: That’s a hard one. Definitely Endless Highway is one.  Time to Kill and Twilight as well.

In the context of music history, particularly rock n roll, how would you describe Levon’s role?

Bruce Moyer: He was “the Appalachian” voice of rock ‘n’ roll.  Hard working with an overabundance of integrity.

Paul Pisciotta: Other than being a guy you would have given body parts to jam with? Hmmm… It’s difficult not to sound trite but the humble personality he maintained his whole life stands out. He left a very personal imprint as a singing drummer that basically defined their sound. He’s a very underrated drummer.

The band may not be the most technically challenging band to cover but it’s certainly hard to get ever moving part together, could you tell us about the first rehearsals you had together in preparation for the event at villain and Saint?

Bruce Moyer: I’d disagree that they’re not all that challenging!  It’s all about groove (again Levon) and not overplaying. No one musicians stands above another and that’s hard for some bands to do.  We adopted an approach to pick apart 5 or so songs at a time per rehearsal and LISTEN to each other and how we are complimenting the song, not our own skills. I will say there is no one show we have spent more time rehearsing for.  What a shame to have it over all in one set!  Perhaps this can become an annual event!

Paul Pisciotta: Well, it may not be Zappa or Mahavishnu but trying to cover their feel is a lifelong challenge. Helm and Danko are locked in a groove uniquely their own much of it from Levon’s singing. He literally could do anything he wanted with the drums and would play a perfect if quirky accompaniment to his singing. Danko slid right along with him seamlessly. The rest of them layered on top of that in a wonderfully balanced way. We approached from the bottom up pretty much the same way. Interlocking layers.

Tickets are now available for purchase here.


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