Sunday, April 02, 2006:

The Roots Canal (guest blog): Goin' Back to New Orleans

Dr. John -- Goin' Back to New Orleans
Joe Liggins -- Goin' Back to New Orleans
Since I'm heading off to New Orleans for the Jazz & Heritage Festival at the end of April, I guess I'll make this New Orleans Month at The Roots Canal. I'll be down at Jazzfest for the first weekend which has an unbelievable lineup: Bob Dylan, Dr. John, Keb Mo, Luther Kent & Trick Bag, Bruce Springsteen, Dave Matthews Band, Etta James, the Meters, Walter "Wolfman" Washington, Allen Toussaint with Elvis Costello, the subdudes, the Iguanas and Dave Bartholomew, along with dozens more local bands. You couldn't ask for much more, short of Professor Longhair coming back to life for an encore of Tipitina.

We might as well kick off New Orleans Month with my all-time favorite Dr. John song, Goin' Back to New Orleans, along with the original jump blues version. The Night Tripper is joined on this one by the Neville Brothers on harmony and Al Hirt and Charles Neville on horns. It's the culmination of a great album of the same name that surveys the entire history of New Orleans music from Congo Square to, well, Dr. John. If you don't know this song, you're really missing something.

The original was by Joe Liggins, one of the biggest stars of the 1940s. I've read that Joe's 1945 hit The Honeydripper was the biggest selling record of the entire decade. After that, he called his band "Joe Liggins & the Honeydrippers." Goin' Back to New Orleans came out in 1950 and was pretty much forgotten for the next four decades. It's a terrific jump blues, apart from a goofy bridge that Dr. John wisely omitted in his 1992 cover. In a way, Liggins himself was a bridge between the swing era and the early rock'n'roll era that began in 1948, with what allmusic calls a "polite" jump style that sounds a lot more like jazz than rock'n'roll. His kid brother Jimmy hit it big a few years later with a harder-edged, more rock'n'roll-like style of R&B. (If you're an eMusic subscriber, you can download two great collections of Joe's work here and two of Jimmy's here.)

[Goin' Back to New Orleans]
[The Shuffle Boogie King]

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Since I'm supposed to be posting about roots music, I couldn't resist linking to this story. You can't get much more "roots" than The Singing Neanderthals, a new book from Harvard University Press.
Good picks here; I love the mood on them.

I've never heard Joe Liggins before.

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