New Band of the Month: June – Dr. John

Every month this year, I’m dedicating myself to getting into a new band.  By ‘new band’, what I really mean is an old band who I’ve known of for awhile but have for one reason or another never checked out.  Maybe they were a genre I wasn’t into, maybe they were the favorite band of someone I didn’t like, maybe I was just lazy.  Whatever reason, I’m going to spend the month trying to get into them.

If, at the end of the month, I find myself enjoying the music I’ll buy an album.  And if not, I’ll save my money for something else.

My New Band for June is:

Dr. John

From the wiki page

Malcolm John “Mac” Rebennack, Jr. (born November 21, 1940), better known by the stage name Dr. John (also Dr. John Creaux, or Dr. John the Night Tripper), is an American singer-songwriter, pianist and guitarist, whose music combines blues, pop, jazz as well as zydeco, boogie woogie and rock and roll.

My personal history with Dr. John:

Alright, so, right off the bat: No, Dr. John isn’t technically a ‘band’.  Now that’s been addressed, moving on.

My exposure to Dr. John has predominantly come in two forms: Seeing his name on CDs in the New Orleans/Zydeco section of the Barnes & Noble where I managed, and hearing his music in the first season of the HBO series, Treme (I’m still waiting for the second season to arrive from Netflix). 

I am 3 months out from my move to New Orleans, and now seems as appropriate a time as any to delve into one of the proud sons of the Big Easy.  While I have never been a huge jazz listener (more an appreciator of the form than a fan), I am fascinated by the music history of the city especially as, more than any other city, the roots of the native musicians seems to be absolutely essential to their music (even the seemingly generic pop rock band Better Than Ezra wears its New Orleans pride on its sleeve).

I’m not ignorant of the style or Dr. John’s music.  This is less about discovering new music this month (though it is still about that) and more about seeing how immersing myself in a culture and sound that is fundamental to New Orleans.  And as I look for an apartment and opportunities in the city ahead, I’m excited about getting an early taste.

I would welcome the direction and input of any Dr. John aficionados.  Are there one or two essential albums I have to hear?  Is there some specific career highlight where I should start, or can I jump in pretty much anywhere?  Please suggest songs/albums that I must listen to in the comments.  And if you’re like me and have never given him a real chance before, get yourself some New Orleans this month.