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A surprise guest

September 29, 2010

Dr. John (left) with J.D. Hill last Monday night. Photo by Nancy Porter.

We love how New Orleans musicians help one another out in times of crisis. As we noted in last Saturday’s post, harmonica bluesman J.D. Hill has been facing a rough time: Not only was he the victim of an armed robbery, but he also faces eviction from his home in Musicians’ Village. Our friend Ann Banks helped organize a benefit show for Hill Monday night.

Friends who attended described it as “amazing,” saying the music was so beautiful that it was “almost too much to stand.” The crowd was thin but the turnout of musicians was strong—among them Robert “BJ” Harvey, the bass player for New Orleans Soul Queen Irma Thomas; R&B vocalist Tommy Singleton and guitarist John T. Lewis; drummer Van Odom from the funk band New Orleans Rhythm Conspiracy; and several musicians who play regularly with bluesman Big Al Carson.

But the big surprise was the arrival of Dr. John, the 70-year-old Grammy-winning pianist, guitar player, and vocalist whose journey from the psychedelic to more traditional, voodoo-inflected New Orleans blues and R&B has made him a national icon. Dr. John has played with Eric Clapton, Aretha Franklin, Van Morrison, and the Rolling Stones, and this year he reigned as the King of New Orleans’ Krewe du Vieux. He’s currently a nominee for The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. You know doubt saw him in the HBO series Treme. Monday night, he got off a plane at 11 p.m. and came straight to the Deck Bar and Grill, just to help out a fellow musician in need.

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