Do you know what it means to miss Orleans? You will by the end of the evening Sunday, when two of the city's greatest musical treasures—R&B/funk/jazz piano man Dr. John and inimitable crooner Aaron Neville—lay down some serious musical voodoo at the Mountain Winery in Saratoga.
Dr. John, aka Mac Rebennack Jr., has been a crucial part of the New Orleans musical fabric for more than half a century. He started out as a session player, backing artists ranging from Frank Zappa to blues icon James Booker before concocting the Dr. John, the Night Tripper persona in the 1960s. Equal parts voodoo lore and psychedelic jibjab, the Dr. John legend became a platform for combining everything the Rebennack loved about New Orleans music, from the wild piano stylings of Professor Longhair to the insistent funk of The Meters.
The Doctor scored a few pop hits, most memorably "Right Place, Wrong Time" and "Iko Iko," but mostly he's gone along doing his own thing, heedless of cultural fads and focused on bringing the Big Easy feeling to as many folks as he can. Just over the past few years, his albums have included a tribute to native son Louis Armstrong (Ske-Dat-De-Dat: Spirit of Satch), a celebration of the Mardis Gras Indian tradition (Tribal) and a star-studded tribute to New Orleans spirit and tenacity (The City That Care Forgot).
The Doctor says it's his way of contributing to a better world. "Music keeps things alive in its own way," he told The Quietus. "It’s a powerful thing. That’s why I believe if you touch someone with music, then we’ve done something."
Aaron Neville has an equally distinguished record of representing the Big Easy musically, using one of the most powerful falsettos to ever make popular music shiver. From his early success as a soul/pop singer with hits such as "Tell It Like It Is" to his decades sprinkling a touch of sugar on the funky magic of New Orleans musical royalty the Neville Brothers, Neville brings a chunk of the Crescent City with him wherever he travels.
"It’s in my blood. It’s in my heart, you know?" he told Pop Matters. "I stay connected. I talk to (brothers) Art, I talk to Cyril, I talk to my kids."
"A Night in New Orleans," featuring Aaron Neville, Dr. John and the Nite Trippers and The New Orleans Suspects, starts at 6 p.m. Sunday at the Mountain Winery in Saratoga. Tickets are $39.50-$89.50.