After making his trademark strut out to the stage, the one-and-only Dr. John, just two days before the anticipated release of his phenomenal new LP Locked Down, ran through an hour set before a sizeable daytime crowd in Woldenberg Park. In the light of a perfect Sunday, accompanied by seven-piece Lower 911 plus Jon Cleary, Rebennack served as the ambassador of New Orleans music for the mostly out-of-town crowd in for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four festivities.
The Lower 911 came out of the gates swinging, opening with Rebennack’s biggest career hit, starting with “Right Place, Wrong Time” (1973). Starting with the street-smart “Revolution“, a tune marked by a thick layer of baritone sax, attention-grabbing, pulsing guitar and lyrics sparked with spiritual energy and virtuous indignation. There is something markedly primal about the new songs mixing staggering R&B, and plugged-in and fuzzed out blues into an entirely original, yet downright familiar and wicked concoction.
Revolution was followed by perhaps the new album’s most infectious and personally-charged tune – the heavy and groovin’ “Ice Age”, that had Rebennack wryly growling “If you ain’t iced/you got the breath of life within”. No truer words were sung all day than when Rebennack proclaimed “ain’t no one ever gonna be like me” on “Big Shot”. Anyone who’s spent anytime around the modern New Orleans music scene surely knows that there are few more prized musical treasures around and in this moment with the new album getting heavy international attention, there’s no doubt that Dr. John is where it’s at once again.
The quintet of new tunes was then finished off with Locked Down‘s funky title track and “You Lie”, a funked-out and slithery track marked by heavily-effected guitar. Mac then stood up for axe duties on a “Let The Good Times Roll” that segued into the slow-burning voodoo of the oft-covered Gris Gris classic “I Walk On Guilded Splinters”. An excellent set as always and, after hearing the new record countless times in the days following Sunday’s set, it looks like yet another career peak is underway for Dr. John in 2012 who is currently acting as artist-in-residency at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Continue on for a photo gallery from the show. Photos by Jimmy Grotting and Wesley Hodges.