An Interview with Dr. John

On Tuesday, September 7th, I had the opportunity to interview the American music icon Dr. John from our Seattle Performance Studio, as well as hear him play a couple of songs. Below is a summary of my interview and the performance, written by KPLU’s Nick Morrison. You will also see photos, and at the end you will find a link to the audio of the performance and interview in its entirely.

Mac ‘Dr. John’ Rebennack has been at the heart of New Orleans funk and R&B since the 1950’s so when he paid a visit to the KPLU/Jazz24 studio for a solo piano/vocal performance, we were sure we’d get a good dose of The Crescent City. We certainly did.

He began by treating us to two songs from his most recent CD, Tribal. The songs, Potnah and Change Of Heart were written by Dr. John and Southwest Louisiana singer/songwriter, Bobby Charles (writer of such Louisiana classics as See You Later Alligator and Walkin’ To New Orleans). In fact, as Dr. John tells interviewer, Kevin Kniestedt, Tribal was initially meant to be a collaboration between Rebennack and Bobby Charles. Unfortunately, Charles passed away in the early stages of the project so Dr. John finished it himself, as a tribute to his old friend.

Dr. John also talked about the ongoing plight of the residents (and refugees) of New Orleans and South Louisiana, five years after Hurricane Katrina and now in the midst of the BP oil spill aftermath.

He concluded by performing one more song: Dorothy, a touching instrumental written for his mother.

By the end of the session it was clear that Dr. John is a man with a mission. Wherever he goes, he takes the musical pleasures and the societal pain of New Orleans with him. He wants us to enjoy the music while never forgetting that his beloved home city is still a long way from being healed.


Click for past KPLU Studio Sessions

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