A rock and roll legend rolled—slipped, sauntered, and whisked—his way through our Sunshine State last week. Chances are good you missed Dr. John before you knew he was here. Chances are better you wouldn’t even know who he was anyway.*
*A unofficial surveying of a handful of area folks proved they did not, in fact, know who the singing, songwriting, piano-playing man was.
Still, Dr. John was the congenial sort of southern gentleman, doing all that fans could have expected from him. From the time he ambled out to his skull-ridden piano in a purple suit and feathery hat, to the time he and his cane made themselves scarce just 90 minutes later, he did all he could to please those who knew and celebrated both the name and songs that define him.
That means we got to hear fairly faithful renditions of “Such A Night” and “Iko Iko” and “Right Place Wrong Time” and all the rest. Short on conversation, he let the songs do his talking for him, addressing us with little more than nods and knowing smiles. Although it was a butts-in-seats concert, many did their best to make it seem otherwise, giving in to scattered shouts of approval right from the onset. If Dr. John could hear the excitement from his stage, filled with purple smoke and blue light, chances are the shouts acted as the driest of sticks thrown on the hottest of flames.
For a small band of 5-6 that didn’t seem to be sipping on a single beverage throughout, Dr. John & The Nite Trippers are one of the very few I’ve seen to successfully create a live experience that feels, well, drunk. That’s a good thing. Whether you came there a little tipsy yourself or became progressively so as the hour grew later, it was clear Dr. John’s troupe didn’t just sound like New Orleans, but it felt like New Orleans. The music hitting our ears was just slightly off kilter, blurry and ready to fall off any semblance of tracks it was actually on. Though the whole lot of them were delicately teetering on the edges, they never quite got around to falling off the wagon.
It was pointed out by a few that The Allman Brothers Band’s Gregg Allman himself was at the performance, planted comfortably on the front row. Let it be both said and written, legends can enjoy other legends as ably as the rest of us.
If you missed it, you’ll have another chance yet. In a few short months, Dr. John & The Nite Trippers are set to make their music ring out through the woods up north of us: they’ll be setting up camp at Wanee in Live Oak this April.
Dr. John & The Nite Trippers Live Review by Dainon. Edited by Austin Young.
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