We wuz in the right place, positioned along the railing at the bar of Mohegan Sun's Wolf Den to catch New Orlean's favorite doctor with his Lower 911 band Tuesday night. Quick trip over, Keith (driving, deftly avoiding the speed trap just before the entrance to the casino), The Reet and I. No Sharie, she had other social activities planned.
Showtime is at eight, so we park and scout out the situation at the Den. Bored looking people stand in line waiting to be seated, but the bar was pretty barren. Good, for that's our spot. Scouting done, we look for a place to get a quick bite to eat - long lines at Frank Pepe and Bobby Flay. Upstairs in the retail area, it's crowded because THE SUN IS PLAYING TONIGHT with the recently sobered-up Diana Taurasi in town! Pro hoops! Okay, sorry. We find The Dubliner authentic Irish Pub, where we order up pizza slices (The Reet- good crust, lousy meatballs), shepherd's pie (Keith-can't remember his opinion, but he ate it all!), Irish sandwich (JK-corned beef 'n fixins', delicious w/ Guinness). "Going the the game?" queries a young gent as he delivers our orders. No, going to the Wolf Den, Dr. John is playing tonight. This throws our boy a bit, but he recovers quickly offering, "Oh, the comedian?" No, but good try. Jeez, I HOPE it's not Dr. John, the comedian!
Back at the Den, it's after seven, some guests have been seated for the show. The front rail at the bar has plenty of room, so we grab two spots/two beers and peoplewatch until showtime. The Reet does not join us, for she is a rambler and a gambler, and prefers to listen to her music at the poker machines. The booths directly below us are empty, reserved for the high-rollers (aka big losers).
Dr. John (real name Mac Rebennack) and his backup boys, The Lower 911 (bass/drums/guitar), come out promptly at eight and immediately funk up the joint. The Night Tripper then pounds his piano (even plays guitar on one song), mumbles jive and sings as only he can for the next hour and a half, sampling just about every phase of his recordings. He plays several numbers from his latest, The City That Care Forgot, and lets it be known that he's none too happy about the way his beloved town was treated after Katrina. For the ladies, he plays Candy from his 1989 album of standards, In a Sentimental Mood (damn it, I HAVE that CD, but I can't find it anywhere!). Some creepy moments below us as a glassy-eyed older guy goes around asking women to dance, staring at them from a distance before each, soon-to-be-rebuffed approach. Of course, everyone waits for Right Place and he finally gets the whole place dancing (creepy guy finally finds someone!) with it. My personal fav is Such a Night:
You let me know that this was my chance
But you came here with my best friend Jim
And here I am, tryin' to steal you away from him
Oh, but if I don't do it, you know somebody else will
If I don't do it, you know somebody else will
For his one-song encore, the good Dr. plays the iconic Iko Iko, made famous by the Dixie Cups in the 60s, but covered by dozens of artists over the years: From Wiki (so it must be true) - Following is the "Iko Iko" story, as told by Dr. John in the liner notes to his 1972 album, Dr. John's Gumbo, in which he covers New Orleans R&B classics:
"The song was written and recorded back in the early 1950s by a New Orleans singer named James Crawford who worked under the name of Sugar Boy & the Cane Cutters. It was recorded in the 1960s by the Dixie Cups for Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller's Red Bird Records, but the format we're following here is Sugar Boy's original. Also in the group were Professor Longhair on piano, Jake Myles, Big Boy Myles, Irv Bannister on guitar, and Eugene 'Bones' Jones on drums. The group was also known as the Chipaka Shaweez. The song was originally called 'Jockamo,' and it has a lot of Creole patois in it. Jockamo means 'jester' in the old myth. It is Mardi Gras music, and the Shaweez was one of many Mardi Gras groups who dressed up in far out Indian costumes and came on as Indian tribes. The tribes used to hang out on Claiborne Avenue and used to get juiced up there getting ready to perform and 'second line' in their own special style during Mardi Gras. That's dead and gone because there's a freeway where those grounds used to be. The tribes were like social clubs who lived all year for Mardi Gras, getting their costumes together. Many of them were musicians, gamblers, hustlers and pimps."
And The Reet won $27!!!!! Such a night!