Yardley Hall at Johnson County Community College, where Dr John and his merry
band of Cajun kickers held court Sunday night. You could feel the bayou’s soothing splash and sway as the sold-out house dug into the jambalaya and etouffe-infused funk that Mac offered up by the plateful.
Five time Grammy Award winner Mac Rebennack – aka Dr. John - cut his musical teeth down on Bourbon Street, an early devotee of Professor Longhair and teenage witness to the likes of Little Richard and Guitar Slim. The cat has obviously done some spirited living, which informed the nonchalant grace he brought to his Overland Park performance.
Bass player John Barard, picking and slapping for all his worth, and drummer Raymond Weber got things cooking on Mac’s up-tempo rumination “Food for Thought,” trombonist Sarah Morrow sashaying across the stage, trading licks with the Doctor’s B-3 scribblings. The tempo rose and fell all night, as Rebennack shifted from piano to organ, playing both of them at the same time on his big hit “I Was in The Right Place.” “Let the Good Times Roll” welcomed the
sweet slide guitar of John Fohl,who made his Strat shake and moan.
Tasteful New Orleans stuff indeed.
The famous vocal quartet (and, like the Doctor, five time Grammy Award winners– what are the odds on that?), brought a decidedly more spiritual feel to the evening with standards like “People Get Ready,” “There Will Be a Light,” and a version of “If I Had A Hammer” that seemed to go on forever (it took one of the blind boys a while to work his way around the Yardley Hall orchestra section).
They even covered Norman Greenbaum‘s 70’s hit “Spirit in the Sky,” which I always thought was about weed, not the New Testament.
Then it was back to Dr John.
“There ain’t never gonna be another big shot like me” sang the Doctor.
“You got that right” replied the assembled multitudes, smiling like they were hanging in the Big Easy instead of stuck on the corner of College and Quivira.