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MUSIC: Dr. John Performing Valentine’s Day at Park Theater

Friday, February 14, 2014

 

When people talk about legends in the music world, you’ll most likely get your usual band of suspects. Names like Jimi Hendrix, George Clinton, Joe Strummer, John Lennon, Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney, Marvin Gaye and countless others come to mind. A man who deserves to be in that class of greatness hails from The Big Easy, and he’s playing The Park Theatre in Cranston tonight for a Valentine’s Day evening bash. That man is no other than Dr. John, a New Orleans music legend who is never afraid to bring the funk, soul, bluesy jazz and R & B. Along with tonight's show, he’ll also be performing at the NBA All-Star Game halftime show with an ensemble cast of talents in ‘Nawlins this Sunday. I had the immense honor & pleasure of talking to Dr. John where we chatted about tonight’s show, performing during the NBA All-Star and more:

Rob Duguay Catches Up With Dr. John

Rob Duguay: Tonight on Valentine’s Day you’ll be performing at The Park Theatre in Cranston. Last time you came to Rhode Island it was in 2012 and it was a sold out performance with this time around looking like it’ll get a similar response. What do you like most about playing in The Ocean State?

Dr. John: Listen, I love playing music and that’s the main thing I love doin’. It doesn’t matter where I’m playing it’s just that I’m working and playing, but I do love when I’ll be playing sometimes there and it’ll be golden when we warm the joint up so there you go.

R.D.: Along with tonight’s show you will be also joining the likes of Trombone Shorty, Janelle Monae, Gary Clark Jr. and Earth, Wind & Fire to perform the NBA All-Star Game halftime show at The Smoothie King Center in New Orleans this Sunday. For a little over a decade now there has been a resurgence of musicians incorporating the blues, soul and R & B styles into their songs. As a person who is very well versed in those three styles, what’s your opinion on popular music shifting back towards these styles?

Dr. John: It’s alright with me, if they play music and it’s kickin’ I like it. If they play it and it don’t kick I don’t like it.

R.D.: It’s pretty much as simple as that. If it’s good, it’s good, and if it’s bad, it’s bad. One of the most devastating and controversial in American history that took place this past decade was the disaster caused by Hurricane Katrina during the Summer of 2005. As a musician who hails from New Orleans and you’ve made it your home for some time now, how much did the storm and the personal aftermath have a personal effect on you?

Dr. John: I’ll tell you that the whole 9th ward of New Orleans is no longer there and that bothers me. I had tons of friends who lived in the lower 9th ward including people I’ve played with and all of these guys lived there. It bothers me that they don’t have a place to live anymore.

R.D.: It’s a sad story when you know people who lived in a certain region of a city that you love don’t live there anymore and don’t have another place to go to because of this storm. It’s a shame that it’s nearly 10 years afterwards and you’re still having the same problems you did a few years ago.

Dr. John: It’s ridiculous. It’s just how it is but I don’t like anything that has to do with it.

R.D.: I don’t blame you. You first started out as a session musician in the 1950s along with being a solo musician and having your own band. Who would you say is the best musicians you’ve ever worked with in your career so far? If you had to pick from any session that you’ve done which is the most memorable.

Dr. John: I started playing sessions around 1954 along with producing records, writing songs and whatever else I’m doin’. I’ve had a blessing of writing with great people like Bobby Charles and Doc Pomus along with a lot of great co-writers and those experiences are always special to me. I have so many memories of great guys who I’ve played with whether it’s Huey Smith, James Booker or Joe Tex. There are so many guys from way after that I’ve had the pleasure of working with from times when I was working with Aretha Franklin. It becomes mind-boggling when you try to remember stuff when you don’t have a great memory. My memory bank sailed into some kind of Salvador Dali painting a long time ago, but it’s ok. When the memories come back they do and when they don’t, they don’t.

R.D.: As a person who has been playing music for over half a century and has become very successful while doing it, what’s the best advice that you can give to any young musician out there today who is trying to make a name for themselves in the music biz?

Dr. John: Respect all music that there is out there and they should learn how to make a little money while they’re performing. I’ll you something Cousin Joe told me along time ago, which is “The best way for a musician to die is to fall over after the last song of the show. The band gets paid and he doesn’t even have to play an encore.” That’s some words of advice from an old timer like Cousin Joe, but it’s words of advice from me too. You should have respect for all the music, just don’t look at one thing. It’s not a healthy way to go.

It was a joyful time talking to Dr. John and you better hit up The Park Theatre in Cranston tonight around 8pm for a show you won’t ever forget. Afterwards there will be a Mardi-Gras-themed afterparty at The Stage Door Lounge located within the theatre for a rockin’ time to spend with you significant other. Have a happy Valentine’s Day and hopefully I’ll see you at tonight’s extravaganza.

For more on Dr. John, check out his website here. For more on the Park Theatre in Cranston, including tickets for tonight's concert, click here


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