On his latest album Locked Down, Dr. John is joined by the Black Keys' guitarist Dan Auerbach, whose own group has hit a crest of critical acclaim and sold out arena tours. The two met at Manchester, Tennessee's Bonnaroo Festival, named after Dr. John's Desitively Bonnaroo, the 1974 album produced by Allen Toussaint and backed by The Meters.
Dozens of albums followed. Dr. John never shook the wild spirit visible on his surface, and thriving in his fibers. The man just bleeds it, looking at him. Auerbach asked him to remove the mask. On Locked Down, we glimpse a doctor frustrated at his world, whether it's economic meltdown or himself. The band conjures weird, smoky swamp funk, haunting deep horn lines and spooky New Orleans R&B — it sounds and feels thick and wet, like an underworld rising to the surface conjured by Dr. John.
As the Los Angeles Times points out, that's not only Auerbach on the album — there's No Neck Blues Band drummer Max Weissenfeldt filling a precise groove, alongside Amy Winehouse's bassman on Back to Black, Nick Movshon; and horn arranger and Truth & Soul label founder Leon Michels crafts brooding, pitch-perfect brass. (The album is out now on Nonesuch Records.)
Here's the group on last night's Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Gone is the doctor's altar-sized ritual and rite piano, replaced here with a double-decker electric piano. Of course he's still donning a gold-crusted red suit and, likely, alligator boots.