Mountainside Mardi Gras in Denver, Colorado
Dr. John (Mac Rebennack, Jr.) has been one of several NOLA artists that have been working to rebuild the city after Katrina and trying to raise awareness that much work remains. His latest CD, "The City That Care Forgot" is a reference to just that. Saturday night, however, he got down to the business of music. He started his set with "St. James Infirmary" with an understated funk feel. I've seen the Dr. a few times before and he's always remained seated behind one or more keyboard instruments. Saturday, he started the show seated between a grand piano and a Hammond B-3 organ. But for the second tune of the evening, he got up, walked to the side of the stage and strapped on an electric guitar for "Come On" probably better known as "Let the Good Times Roll," the song made popular by Jimi Hendrix and later Stevie Ray Vaughn. Rebbennack has been a bit rotund over the years, but Saturday night he seemed slimmed down and was moving around a little better than I've seen in the past. Some audience members debated whether he's been getting in shape or whether his slimmer physique is due to recent illness. He didn't say.
He had one of the more stripped down bands of the evening with only bass, drums and guitar backing his keyboards and vocals. He was joined later by a tenor saxophonist and eventually by the DDBB horn section. He went back in his catalog of hits for "Such a Night," "Right Place, Wrong Time" and "Walk On Gilded Splinters." Somewhat less known, but fun nonetheless was "How Come My Dog Don't Bark When You Come 'Round?" Toward the end of the set, he got back to serious NOLA with a bluesy version of "When the Saints Come Marching In."
The music was outstanding, but the anemic crowd was disappointing. A lineup like this should have drawn several times the numbers that showed up. A guess as good as any is that a lack of promotion was the main problem. It will be too bad if a miscalculation in that area means the "First Annual Mountainside Mardi Gras" turns out to be the last.