As I write this, I am on a plane to New Orleans. This means two things: If a far better column topic has appeared between now and when you’re reading this I didn’t know about it yet, and I’m taking the opportunity to write about musicians from the city.
This presents somewhat of a problem. New Orleans is one of the live music capitals of the world, but since it’s jazz you probably haven’t heard of the bands. And if you haven’t heard of it odds are you’re not reading this column right now, and that means I’m talking to myself. So try not to argue with my choices; I’m trying to balance quality and widespread awareness here.
Disclaimer out of the way, here are five New Orleans musicians that hopefully won’t confuse you too much.
Fats Domino — “Blueberry Hill”
Let’s go way back to one of the pioneers of rock and roll as a genre.
Since either you know about his history or you don’t care, I’ll skip ahead past the ’50s to 2005. Domino was living in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit, and since his wife’s health didn’t let her evacuate he stayed behind with her. He was missing and presumed dead, to the point memorials started popping up, until it was discovered that the Coast Guard rescued him.
That part isn’t why I bring it up to our mostly Bay Area readership. The reason I bring it up is that after he was released from the hospital, he spent a while at JaMarcus Russell’s place while his house was rebuilt. Yes, that JaMarcus Russell. Seventy-seven-year-old Fats Domino crashed on his couch for a while.
The world can be a weird place.
Louis Armstrong — “What a Wonderful World”
I mean… yeah, obviously. The airport I’m hopefully going to land at is named after the guy.
Louis Armstrong is so popular that his version of “Hello, Dolly!” knocked The Beatles out of the top spot on the charts in 1964. A promotional version of a song from a musical originally sung by Carol Channing beat The Beatles during the peak of their popularity. I just assumed the only time a Beatles song left the top of the charts in the early ’60s was when the Beatles released a new song.
Dr. John — “Right Place, Wrong Time”
Technically, by the time he died last year, Dr. John was an appropriate name.
Yes, his actual name was Malcolm Rebennack, but his middle name was John so that counts. And, granted, when he started performing as Dr. John in 1968, he wasn’t actually a doctor. He got an honorary doctorate from Tulane in 2013, which made him, officially, formally and legally Dr. John.
It took him a couple years but it all worked out.
Lil Wayne — “Lollipop”
Fun Fact: Lil Wayne was an honor student at a magnet high school for two years before transferring. I don’t know about you but I’m not sure I could’ve even gotten into a magnet school, and if I did I probably wouldn’t be an honor student.
I know what you’re thinking and yes, apparently he is super smart despite agreeing to be on “The Masked Singer.” I guess everyone makes mistakes.
Juvenile — “Back That Azz Up”
Did I pick this song specifically to post that video of former presidential candidate and professional rich guy Tom Steyer attempting to dance to it? Yes. Yes I did. The sole reason Juvenile made this list is because of Tom Steyer attempting to dance to “Back That Azz Up.”
Does anyone know where Tom Steyer actually got his money? Because the guy’s apparently a billionaire but he just kind of materialized out of thin air. He did some good stuff with environmental advocacy, then spent like a hundred million dollars to get absolutely no delegates, but before that I’m not sure he even existed.
Ah well, at least his campaign resulted in this video shortly before he suspended it.
Follow editor Daniel J. Willis and tweet column ideas to him at Twitter.com/BayAreaData.