He has been known as the night tripper. The Voodoo Mysticism man. A pioneer of Louisiana Boogie-woogie and a dynamo of Zydeco and Rock-n’-Roll, Mardi Gras style. Under the ruby red and violet stage lights, his beads sway back and forth against his pinstriped suit through every passionate move of his hands across the keyboard. With his black hat tipped perfectly over a pair of shadowy shades, he defines cool. He lives, loves and breathes the sounds of New Orleans, and shows it onstage every night with a fantastic spectacle of theatrics and musical madness. Who else could pull off such a magical night than Dr. John himself?
Under a deep orange sky and the rolling backdrop of the hill country, audiences from all over Austin were able to pack into One World Theatre to experience this music master. Dr. John has been known for decades as a legend, beginning his career playing in front of audiences in the 1950′s. With his combination of blues, jazz, pop and rock n’ roll wrapped in a decadent package of rich Louisiana roots and theatrical funk, his show is quite unlike any other major performer in existence. For years he has gained notoriety with his medicine shows, onstage Voodoo ceremonies and wild costumes; yet underneath it all remains a truly gifted musician whose deep, gravelly voice and insane talent on the keyboard has gotten him inducted into the Rock-n’-Roll Hall of Fame, collaborations with Eric Clapton and Mick Jagger and continued acclaim around the world.
While I have experienced many amazing shows at the One World Theatre, this was one of the greatest I have seen yet. Stepping out in his impeccably tailored suit dripping with Mardi Gras beads and Voodoo chains, he sat down at the piano (adorned with a shimmery skull) and suddenly a musical Pandora’s box was opened. With a passionate intensity he pounded the keys. Standing up, sitting down, and even playing two pianos at a time, his music continued to genuinely speak the song of the Louisiana culture. Backed up by the furious beat of a drummer and funky strum of the guitar and base, the transformed sounds gave you the feeling of being smack dab in the middle of a New Orleans street, peering into the window of a jazz club with a hot beignet in hand.
He was a complete performer for the audience, peppering every few songs like “Right Place Wrong Time” with words that would make the audience scream, and even getting up to perform Voodoo theatrics with some choice props. Shredding the guitar with a sense of complete effortlessness, it became clearer just how versatile and talented this legendary artist is. And the audiences’ response was just as extraordinary. Men and women of all ages were standing up in the aisles, spinning, jumping and dancing their hearts out to the beat of the musicians. By the end of the show, the majority of patrons had burst into a happy mania of screams with hands flying in the air; the positive energy within the room was boundless and enough to give anyone goose bumps.
One of the most fantastic elements of this wildly theatrical show, though, was that it all went down at the One World Theatre. Inside this intimate and one-of-a-kind venue, it felt as though the audience were in some kind of magical bubble of music that couldn’t be penetrated. Thoughts of the day dissipated, and the whole world seemed to melt away listening to the extraordinary sounds being created inside the theatre. Not distracted by miles of seats and thousands of people, audience members were able to see Dr. John in his purest form and get lost in every song being played. While he may perform all around the world and participate in renowned music festivals, to see this incredible legend here was an experience not to be missed; this venue seems to prove once again that any artist will only sound better once they ascend its stage. If you haven’t experienced a show yet, come by to be transported into a night of pure musical euphoria that only the One World Theatre can provide.