Mac Rebennack learned his music under the tutelage of Professor Longhair in New Orleans' riverside bars and rinky-dink studios. Rebennack took the advanced degree and earned the title, Dr. John. Now that the good professor is dead, Dr. John carries on the fine art of bayou funk. Thursday night at Garvin's Laugh Inn, Dr. John was in top form as he led five advanced students through a seminar on voodoo rhythm & blues.
The program included a Professor Longhair classic and Rebennack's own hits: "Right Place, Wrong Time," and "Such a Night." The songs were pumped up by a hot horn section that included trumpeter Charlie Miller and saxophonist Lou Marini. Marini was fresh from the Blues Brothers' movie and national tour. Still, the star was Dr. John. He whistled happily, growled in his raspy swamp demon voice, and produced the rolling swells of piano notes that are a New Orleans trademark.
The show was opened by Kelly Rogers, a dreadful comic from L.A. He tried to cover up his weak material by heckling the audience. Rogers was followed by Jim Tam, a local comedian/musician. Tam was much better as he "previewed" songs from "Elmer Fudd's Greatest Hits" and "Jimi Hendrix Sings Christmas Carols."