Malcolm John “Mac” Rebennack has gone by many names over the course of his long career — Dr. John, the Night Tripper, that guy with the song in the Heineken commercial — but he’s rarely gotten the level of attention or respect that he deserves. These days, he’s as relevant as ever (listen to 2008’s Grammy-winning City That Care Forgot for proof), but he’s also commonly thought of as an old buffoon whose music is mainly suited for the wine spritzer set.
He brought some of this on himself — you can’t cultivate a public persona that flamboyant without becoming the butt of a few jokes, after all — but for the most part, aside from a brief string of minor hits in the ’70s, Dr. John has never recorded commercially fashionable music, and a lot of his most important work has been behind the scenes. It’s a shame, and we’re going to do our part to remedy it today.
I’ve been on a big Professor Longhair kick lately, and because Wolfgang’s Vault doesn’t have any Longhair shows for some damn reason, I went hunting for the next best thing: this hourlong 1978 set from one of his most accomplished disciples. After being informed that “the Doctor will see you now,” the audience at the Bottom Line was treated to this tasty version of “Swanee River Boogie”:
But the high point for me is the show closer, this nine-minute version of “Iko Iko”:
Go listen to the whole show at Wolfgang’s Vault, petition the Vaultkeepers to add some Professor Longhair, and meet me back here in a week for another dose of nougaty live goodness!