Dr. John brings New Orleans sound to Cohasset

, Managing Editor

Sunday night at the South Shore Music Circus a couple artists from the Deep South, with deep catalogues, may have been playing above the Mason Dixon line but they were received with the warmth of southern hospitality. Dr. John and the Blind Boys of Alabama each played roughly hour long sets before a half house in Cohasset, mixing genres and playing tunes off their most recent releases.

Touring in support of his latest album, Tribal, Louisiana legend Dr. John was joined by his band, the Lower 911, a group of talented musicians who perfectly accompanied the Doctor in his blending of genres. Bassist David Barard and drummer Roscoe Ernest III provided the pulse to John’s funkier numbers like “Goin’ Back to New Orleans”, “Save Our Wetlands” and his classic track “Right Place, Wrong Time”. Meanwhile, guitarist John Fohl added to the authenticity of John’s New Orleans sound with some twangy solos placed in many of the John’s ballads.

John’s vocals are a bit grittier than years ago but still sound effortlessly clean. Speaking of effortlessly, the pianist breezed through his hour-ish set barely stopping to take a breather (and at almost 70 years old that’s some feat). He switched between piano and organ, never really overshadowing the rest of the band with his instrument. Though, when he strapped on a guitar for “One Dirty Woman” he certainly held the spotlight as he strummed out a solo that exhibited his fine skills on the six-string as well. Late in the set John mixed the silly with the serious during ‘Wetlands’ as he left his piano stool and grooved around the back of the stage, ending it with a deep bend and Barard joking “Don’t hurt yourself now!”. When John got back to his stool he jived out a verse about the BP oil spill and urged fans to “call your congressman”. A fixture of New Orleans, Dr. John surprisingly didn’t say much else about his home, considering it was the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, only briefly mentioning the disaster. Though, if anybody still needed a reminder of why New Orleans should be supported after John’s performance then they were at the wrong show.

The Blind Boys of Alabama opened the show and set the tone for the Lousiana sound as they played several songs off their recent album, Down in New Orleans. “Uncloudy Day” featured some rollicking New Orleans-style piano and “Free At Last” thrilled as a take on a little southern funk. Although the songs sold themselves, founding member Jimmy Carter added some humor to the show as he mentioned the Blind Boys love for food (using his portly bandmate Bishop Billy Bowers as evidence) and tried to drive sales saying “every time you buy a CD we get to eat!”.  They have no need to worry though, because with voices like theirs it doesn’t look like they’ll be going hungry any time soon.

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