Taking a break from the free shows that have been happening every Friday night at the uptown club all summer, the fabled night spot welcomes the good doctor back to town.
Tongues have been wagging and ink has been spilled for nearly a year concerning the career of the much-beloved New Orleans music legend. The talk began when Dr. John fired his long running band, and replaced the ensemble with locally unknown musicians with few ties to the Crescent City.
While certainly entitled to make his own choices with regard to personnel, keyboards were clattering after a highly anticipated set at the 2013 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival was panned by most of the professional music journalists who were in attendance. Many fans who were already wondering exactly what was going on the mysterious mind of one of our greats were also confounded by the set at the Fairgrounds.
I saw the set from up front and center as is my wont, and found it severely lacking. I didn’t write about it, chalking the performance off to jitters from a new band that was arguably playing on the most important stage in New Orleans.
My colleague John Swenson (he also a mentor who wrote a wonderful blurb for my book, and interviewed me on the Alison Miner Music Heritage stage at this past Jazz Fest), wrote a negative review, and was recently called on the carpet by Dr. John’s new bandleader (pictured above). He details the whole sordid affair here.
I provide this entire backstory in hopes that the two can bury the hatchet, and the music loving public can move on. As much as Dr. John is entitled to his choice of personnel, Swenson is entitled to his opinion.
For fans who were at the set at the Jazz Fest or read some of the negative press, it’s important to note that Dr. John has again changed some of the personnel in his band. Swenson reported from the Montreal Jazz Fest that the performance was much improved.