the psychedelic hoodoo gonna getchoo...
November 27, 2009 7:06 AM   Subscribe

Just ease on into one of the most laid-back grooves to ever weave its way through a New Orleans junkyard, and join the procession as the estimable Dr. John is led through the rusting automobiles on a mule. After that, you'll be ready to enter the Inner Sanctum of Deep Mystic Hoodoo, with the good Doctor as your intoning, night tripping guide through the Zu Zu Mamou hallucinations. You won't be the same, afterwards...
posted by flapjax at midnite (21 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
This post is in the right place, but I think its the wrong time.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:25 AM on November 27, 2009 [3 favorites]

Mama Roux, she was the queen of the little red white and blue...
posted by fixedgear at 7:35 AM on November 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

This post is in the right place, but I think its the wrong time.

Oh, I don't know. I can walk on gilded splinters just about any time.
posted by philip-random at 7:42 AM on November 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

Nice finds by the way. It occurs to me (after a quick YouTube search) how very under-represented Dr. John is there right now, because there is/was definitely some vintage footage. I remember being a stoned teenager in the mid-70s catching him on some late night concert show or other in full-on Night Tripper mode. How could I not remember it? What a freaky manifestation! What I didn't realize at the time was how deeply, sumptuously, richly good the actual music was ... and well named.

gris gris GUMBO indeed ...

but how come the only version of that particular song I can find is some white guys jammed into the corner of a record store?
posted by philip-random at 7:54 AM on November 27, 2009

Thank you. I never heard of Dr. John. But I think I may have heard this music, because damn, the time vortex thing grabbed me and took me back into time.
posted by Goofyy at 7:56 AM on November 27, 2009

His "Gris-Gris" voodoo period holds up just as well as it ever did. What strange music!

He's been doing more roots New Orleans R & B music since, with several trips into pop music territory (with varying results). Lots of collaborative efforts as well. I saw him twenty years ago, and as he hobbled up to the stage on his cane, I thought he was on his last legs. Boy, was I wrong. What a musician.

He might be a little underrated - but not as much so as Rahsaan Roland Kirk and perhaps Sun Ra. All three acts have had some "novelty" elements, which is a turnoff to snobby music critics.
posted by kozad at 8:08 AM on November 27, 2009

Great finds - rare, vintage Dr John, thanks flapjax. And I'm with you philip-random.
posted by madamjujujive at 8:08 AM on November 27, 2009

Oh yeah. I've been on an intermittent Dr. John binge ever since last winter when I visited home and ripped my mom's collection.

I'm told my dad used to hang out with the good Doctor back when he was just Mack Rebenack, growing up; he certainly had a working relationship with him as an adult due to him being the guy who engineered a significant proportion of the radio commercials in New Orleans. I never really heard any stories about those days, though; he died before I was old enough to hear any stories of getting in trouble with a future hoodoo man...
posted by egypturnash at 8:48 AM on November 27, 2009

My girlfriend and I listened to both Dr. John's Night Tripper stuff incessantly when we were in New Orleans, particularly on long evening road trips through the swamps on the way backfrom the Gulf Coast. I have a lot of New Orleans music I listen to for fun -- Ernie K-Doe, Popeye party music, the Morgus Theme -- but if you wanted to badly scare yourself, Dr. John was the go-to guy. When his songs played, anything could be happening in those swamps.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:10 AM on November 27, 2009

Yet another legend that was introduced to past-me via Blues Brothers 20000. It's a difficult movie to defend, but I'll do it.
posted by cmoj at 9:27 AM on November 27, 2009

friend of mine's daddy used to sing in a big band based out of da parish (chalmette) back in the day. they were well established, played a lot of weddings & such, including carnival balls. carrie's daddy tells the story about how the keyboard player would beg the band to let him sing & play a few of his songs on their gigs. her daddy would just roll his eyes & say, 'but mac, we want to be invited back again next year.'

don't know if that contributed to him changing his name & hitting the road with his own act, but things turned out pretty ok for dr. john.
posted by msconduct at 9:45 AM on November 27, 2009 [4 favorites]

This is awesome. Thank you so much! On my yearly pilgrimage to the New Orleans Jazzfest I always make it a point to catch Dr John at Tipitina's for one of his late night shows. Highly recommended if you ever get a chance to attend.
posted by white_devil at 9:56 AM on November 27, 2009

My four-year-old daughter has deemed it worthy of dancing. I always liked Dr John, but it's good to know it runs in the family.
posted by mitzyjalapeno at 10:06 AM on November 27, 2009

This is the best clip on YouTube.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:18 AM on November 27, 2009 [3 favorites]

I remember being a stoned teenager in the mid-70s catching him on some late night concert show or other in full-on Night Tripper mode. How could I not remember it?

I once saw him live at a festival in 71 or 72. The line up of this festival was some serious shit -- Grateful Dead, The Kinks, Captain Beefheart, etc. but Dr. John's midnight set blew the rest of them away.

He did this one that night.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:35 AM on November 27, 2009

Blues Brothers 20000

In the year, twenty thousand twenty thousand,
if Jake is still alive,
if Elwood can survive,
they may find.....
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:38 PM on November 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

Uh. I mean will introduce me. I mean...

there is no tome travel
posted by cmoj at 5:58 PM on November 27, 2009

Way back in those gris gris/gumbo days I caught up with Dr. John at a small community college, to do an interview between the sound check and the actual show. While we talked, various helpers bustled around getting him dressed for the occasion, people who (since we were having a great time) I didn't pay much attention to. Finally when he was ready to go, and we stopped talking, I looked up at him, and literally jumped back for a moment. The friendly bearded guy with the striped t-shirt had been transformed into this scary-looking dude, covered in feathers, bones (including a few skulls), and lots of glitter under a giant headdress.

I took a photo a few minutes later of his cane, a picture improved, actually, when the negative wasn't processed properly and some light got in.

I don't think you can say enough good about the good doctor, who started professionally as a guitar player in his teens, way before the psychedelic hoodoo era, and had his first hit in 1959 (50 years ago!). A long strange trip indeed, wheher on a mule or not.
posted by LeLiLo at 7:17 PM on November 27, 2009 [2 favorites]

PeterMcDermott This is the best clip on YouTube .

There are a lot of videos on youtube, but you are entirely correct. I could watch that every day. Damn good.
posted by irisclara at 7:23 PM on November 27, 2009

I love this. I've seem him a few times, the last time about ten years ago at an outdoor festival concert in the park. It was pouring rain the whole time and he told us, "Y'all must be crazy to be standing out in the rain just to see me." It was my second date with my now-wife and neither of us wanted to wimp out on a concert that early in our dating. Good thing to 'cause he put on a great show.
posted by octothorpe at 4:13 PM on November 29, 2009

Thanks for this. He didn't perform when I went to the French Quarter Festival last year, but I saw him at the outdoor Osaka Blues Festival (oh, yes) with Clarence Gatemouth Brown as the main American guests about 12 years ago. Man, that was a show! It took Dr. John about 90 seconds of the first song to have most of the festival-seating audience up on their feet. For me, too, this was a date with my future wife, after BB King headlined the previous year.

This poignant duet on Lou Reed's "Perfect Day" shows how the Good Doctor's N'awlins drawl can be so effective.

PeterMcDermott, I've got that whole show on good ol' VHS.
posted by planetkyoto at 6:56 AM on November 30, 2009

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