For the past three weeks, Dr. John has turned BAM's Howard Gilman Opera House into his own private Bonnaroo, presenting a variety of music inspired by his New Orleans roots. In his tribute to Louis Armstong, Dr. John brought out such luminaries as Rickie Lee Jones, Roy Hargrove, Arturo Sandoval - and, of course, New Orleans' own Kermit Ruffins. Last week, Dr. John showed off his rock side with The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach, who also produced The Night Tripper's newest album, Locked Down.
This weekend, Dr. John wraps up his residency with a good ol' fashioned New Orleans Stomp, showcasing the lighter, funkier side of the Big Easy. Friday night's show started out with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band parading straight down the center aisle, leading in the musicians like it was Mardi Gras. Dr. John, who alternated between piano and Hammond B3 - both covered with Voodoo votives - was joined by a succession of some of NOLA's greatest musicians, including jazz trumpeter Nicholas Payton, saxophonist Donald Harrison, and keyboard player Ivan Neville, whose Dumpstaphunk project has been filling more and more of his time when he's not playing with the Neville Brothers.
Davell Crawford, "The Piano Prince of New Orleans," stole the show with an electric, Gospel-tinged number at the organ that would have made Al Green proud. And Irma Thomas, for more than 50 years the reigning "Soul Queen of New Orleans", brought the house down with her superhuman voice. She also showed an appealing sense of humor by performing her early classic, "You Can Have My Husband, But You Can't Have My Man."
Dr. John and the full ensemble brought the party to a close with his classic "Right Place Wrong Time," followed by the Dirty Dozens serenading The Nightripper out, dancng around his African cane full of trinkets. Whether it's indoors ot out, you literally cannot stay down after listening to this music: whatever ails you, Dr. John has the cure.
More pics on the photo page.