Singer, songwriter and pianist Dr. John recently won a Grammy Award in early February for his heartfelt tribute to his native New Orleans, Louisiana, City That Care Forgot. The album, named 2009 Best Contemporary Blues Album, is one of the most compelling of his career.
Like so many that saw New Orleans devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2006, Dr. John is still reeling in its aftermath. He says he couldn't have lived with himself if he didn't make this record.
Emotions run high, especially on songs like "Promises, Promises." But, whatever the mood, Dr. John rallies behind those who lost their homes in the hurricane, and he offers a ray of hope for the city that has yet to recover from one of the worst storms in U.S. history. Today, thousands of residents in Louisiana and Mississippi continue to live in temporary trailers.
With an eye to the future, Dr. John sings about an inevitable rebirth of New Orleans. Dr. John and his band, The Lower 911, are joined by guitarist Eric Clapton on "Stripped Away." While the good times are slowly coming back, the bitterness lingers, as Dr. John reminds us with "Say Whut?"
Dr. John hasn't lost his touch for New Orleans funk and soul. It's a blend of music he calls "the fonk," incorporating the modern and traditional influences that come together in the Crescent City.
Also helping out on the album are Willie Nelson and Ani DiFranco, as well as New Orleans music greats Terence Blanchard, Terrance Simien, "Trombone Shorty" and trumpeter James Andrews.
Dr. John is currently on tour with another quintessential New Orleans act, The Neville Brothers. His tour will eventually wind back to Louisiana and the 40th Annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.