The Road to New Orleans

Posted on November 8, 2011


If you haven’t seen Tremé, the HBO series from Wire-creator David Simon, you owe it to yourself to check it out. Set in New Orleans in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, it’s an Altman-esque patchwork of overlapping characters and story lines that creates a compelling narrative around the city’s struggle to rebuild.

As someone who has always been fascinated by New Orleans culture from afar; the food, the rhythms, the vein of institutional corruption that is as much a part of the city’s history as beignets and Roman candy, there’s more to recommend it than I have time to elaborate on here. Trust me; it’s great and well worth the time if you have the time to spare. But the cameos are one of the show’s consistent delights. There probably won’t be another show anytime soon that will boast appearances from the likes of Eric Ripert, Elvis Costello, David Chang and Katey Red.

And then there’s Dr. John, a man who inhabits his own dimension in a city that vibrates at its own unique frequency. There’s really no way to describe the good doctor’s Crescent City patois except to say that it gets all up in my pleasure zone whenever I hear the man talk. It’s seven kinds of awesome; a linguistic etouffeé that I can only imagine goes great with red beans and rice and sucks up hot sauce like no one’s business.

In the clip below, Delmond Lambreaux and Donald Harrison Jr. try to enlist Dr. John in their new project; a hybrid of jazz and traditional Mardi Gras Indian chants that will be recorded in New York and New Orleans for Delmond’s record label benefactors. The problem is how to incorporate Lambreaux’s father, Big Chief Albert Lambreaux, a proud and stubborn man whose irascible nature is well known to all involved. Dr. John ponders the variables, as only he can.

I would not miss this maneuver for nuttin’ on the planet.

Posted in: Music