The Night Tripper introducing The Meters. An occasion which begs the question, could things really get any funkier? Nuh-uh. The aforementioned footage is culled from the television special, Dr. John’s New Orleans Swamp — the 1974 season finale of the Chicago based Soundstage series. Whoever had the stones, or the gris-gris, to make this happen deserves doubloons aplenty, along with an extra slice of king cake.
In his role as emcee/ringleader, the revue finds Rebennack in his prime, coming off that year’s Destively Bonnaroo — his second consecutive lp produced by Allen Toussaint and backed by the Meters. A pairing so hot, shit should be illegal. Mercy.
With his near indecipherable patois (donning, naturally, a juju bag, with an accouterments of feathers …), the Doctor introduces living legend Professor Longhair. Up next, Earl King’s blues mojo takes the stage giving the emcee an opportunity slide behind the keys, backing King as he croons the longing r&b of “Those Lonely, Lonely Nights.”
But, hold up — the roux is just getting started. Up next, the creole compère scat-introduces The Meters…who immediately lock into a white hot “Look-Ka Py Py” before the ascendant funk of “Jungle Man” lays waste to the unsuspecting, Midwestern seated audience.
Dr. John, now decked out like a hybrid Elton John/Mardi Gras Indian, has the unenviable task of following up this wicked shit. Which he does! And with due aplomb. Following his performance, the carnival concludes with a grand finale of “Big Chief” — a rousing, ensemble rendering featuring the entirety of the evening’s krewe. RIP Malcolm John Rebennack Jr, the singular and estimable Dr. John.
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