Dr. John becomes the Night Tripper again on his latest CD, thanks to Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys
Two key qualities infuse the music of New Orleans: mystery and joy. The latter couldn’t be more obvious. This is party music created in what may be America’s most celebratory city. But it’s rarer to find local music in tune with the city’s darkest mystery — that mix of voodoo culture and gris-gris imagery that gives the place its connection to the next world.
At the start of his solo career, over 40 years ago, Dr. John translated the spookier and more elusive part of New Orleans for hippie rockers. His first four albums, starting with 1968’s “Gris-Gris,” recorded under the persona “the Night Tripper,” made the connection between native spiritualism and stoner culture in a way that ranks them among the most mind-bending albums of their day.
By 1972, however, John streamlined his sound, making more conventional New Orleans blues and soul records. That gave him hits but robbed him of his eerie cool.
Clearly, the spooky part most interested Dan Auerbach (guitarist of the hit, primitivist rock band Black Keys). He produced the Dr.’s new “Locked Down,” which revives some of the shadowy intrigue of his first solo recordings while combining it with enough other elements to make this one of the smokiest, funkiest, sexiest works of the legend’s career. [Read More]