During this interview, Matt Black drive us into more than 30 years of music, activism, ecology, internet, vw bus, pirate tv, Max Headroom, kissfm, london best dj’s, pirate radio, warehouses, encoders, turning Radiohead to electronic, Zen Delay, Vjamm Pro software and more. Black also discuss his latest album, and his experiences in the township of Khayelitsha in Cape Town, South Africa, or recording with the drummer Tony Allen and leading to a collaboration with the The Watts Prophets.
Matt Black is half of legendary DJ duo and multimedia pop group Coldcut, formed in 1987, and founders of Ninja Tune, the UK label. In 2020 Ninja Tune celebrated 30 years as one of the world’s leading electronic music labels and a beacon for the independent music spirit. In 2017 Coldcut celebrated 30 years in electronic music with a string of gigs releases and special projects. A new album ‘Keleketla’ was released July 2020 to ‘universal acclaim’ (Metacritic).
Matt is known for innovations in DJing, remixing, mashup, VJing, software, digital art and multimedia. Over 34 years as part of Coldcut he has combined cutting edge artistic expression with positive activist themes in such pieces as Journeys by DJ, The Only Way is Up, People Hold On, Stop This Crazy Thing, Timber, Panopticon, Re:volution, Energy Union, Walk a Mile, True Skool, and many more. Coldcut have worked with a wild range of artists, activists and other groups and luminaries eg Steve Reich, James Brown, Mark E Smith, Queen Latifah, Jello Biafra, Saul Williams, Robert Owens, Lisa Stansfield, Crass, Roots Manuva, Lee Scratch Perry, Adrian Sherwood, Tony Allen, Joe Armon-Jones, the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, the RCA, Greenpeace, and Avaaz.
In 2011 Matt designed the iOS app Ninja Jamm, Ninja Tune’s first music app which has had over 600,000 downloads; in Feb 2020 the new advanced version Jamm Pro was released. Matt uses his software to perform, lecture, and give workshops on audiovisual art, technology and music- so people can use these tools for their own art and music. In 2017, 2 more apps he designed were released: Pixi a visual synth, and Robbery a satirical video game. Midivolve, a music software collaboration with Ableton was released July 2017. The Zen Delay hardware unit released 2019 is also his co-creation and was rated as one of the top effects of the decade by Music Tech.
At Splice festival 2017 Matt showcased his experiments with Style Transfer, a cutting edge new style of visual processing using AI techniques. For his AV show, done in conjunction with his wife filmmaker Dinaz Stafford, Jamm triggers visual clips so every sound has a matching visual.
Matt collaborated with artist Wolfgang Buttress (the Hive, Kew) for BEAM AV installation Glastonbury 2019. In lockdown 2020 Matt revived PirateTV the netcasting project he started in 1998, and is currently doing AV shows via Twitch.
Matt’s stated ambition is to ‘create positive art, music and spiritual technology to blow the minds of the entire planet and advance cooperative strategies’. He continues to gig, lecture, DJ, VJ, record, make films, develop software and bridge the worlds of technology, club culture, art and activism.
During this interview we discussed ideas around embodiment, re-embodiment, kimospheres, atmospheres, technology and issues related to the practice of Johannes Birringer as a choreographer, director and professor of performance technologies. His publications have taken up important issues surrounding the body and technologies, theatre, dance, and choreography. Birringer underlines the pivotal moment when he attended a Pina Bausch performance, as a young student, and how it affected and redirected his career. Other figures like Stelarc haunt this discussion. With the DAP-Lab he has created numerous stage works, installations and short films. Recent research, conducted in Texas in 2019, explores underground space and caves and how they are linked to deep listening methodologies proposed by Pauline Oliveros.
Johannes Birringer is a choreographer/media artist and co-director of DAP-Lab at Brunel University where he is a Professor of Performance Technologies. He also directs the Houston-based AlienNation Co. and is the founder of the Interaktionslabor (http://interaktionslabor.de). He has created numerous dance-theatre works, films and video installations that have been shown in Europe, the Americas, China, and Japan. DAP-Lab’s “Suna no Onna” was featured at festivals in London; the mixed-reality installation “UKIYO” went on European tour in 2010. The dance opera “for the time being [Victory over the Sun]” premiered at Sadler’s Wells (2014). DAP-Lab’s most recent dance installations, “kimospheres” III-VI (2016-2019) explore the convergence of physical-sensory and augmented VR spaces, and were shown in Madrid, Paris, London and Durban, SA. The dance performance “Mourning for a dead moon” (December 2019) addresses the climate crisis. His books include “Media and Performance,” “Performance on the Edge,” “Performance, Technology & Science,” “Dance and ChoreoMania,” “Tanz der Dinge/Things that Dance,” and a new book, “Kinetic Atmospheres: Performance and Immersion” (Routledge) that probes the implications of environmental immersion and mixed reality digital architectures.
xname is the digital identity of media artist, performer and composer Eleonora Oreggia, originally from Milan and currently based in London. She creates performances and interactive installations using light, sound, dust and self-made sensor-driven synthesizers. Her music features elements of techno, ambient drone and industrial. In 2013 she has been selected by the Barbican to represent the artist Marchel Duchamp in the digital era. Her artworks, consisting of audiovisual pieces, software, sculptures, interactive installations and live performances, have received several prizes and awards and have been consistently shown in institutes, museums, galleries and festivals over Europe, UK, Asia and America – and over the Net. A Design alumna from renown Dutch post-academic institute Jan van Eyck Academie, Eleonora has also obtained an MPhil in Cultural Studies from Goldsmiths College, a PhD in Media & Arts Technology from Queen Mary University, and a Laurea (summa cum Laude) in DAMS (Drama, Art and Music Studies) from University of Bologna, IT. She is the founder of Nebularosa Records – a label promoting music and musicians who challenge established production practices. http://xname.cc http://xname.cc/rebus http://nebularosa.net
Not only her work spans over more than 50 years and englobes music composition, performance, theatre and sound installations, but she also has worked with the biggest names in the field, like Stravinsky, Berio, Cage, Stockhausen, just to name a few. Here she comes back on the stories of these unique encounters, and also how she firstly brought this kind of music to Brazil.
Jocy de Oliveira has been involved as a composer/author in a variety of media since the early 1960s utilizing acoustic and electronic instruments, music-theatre, installations, texts, graphics, video, and audiences in an approach to an organic development of performance/composition works.
Her operas were released on 6 DVDs
distributed by NAXOS Video Library. Her most recent work is a cinematic
opera Liquid Voices – A história de Mathilda Segalescu is a feature film
in process of finalization and distribution to International Film
Festivals in 2019.
Author of five books published in Brazil, France and the USA, Jocy de Oliveira recently launched Dialogue with Letters,
published by SESI SP, 2014, which was acclaimed by the media and
received the most important literature prize in Brazil – Jabuti
Literature First Prize, 2015. This same year the French edition of this
book was very successfully launched in Paris by Editions Honoré Champion
as part of the Sorbonne musicology collection. In 2016 the book was
selected as finalist for the Premio Rio de Literatura. In 2018 a book Leituras de Jocy coordinated
by Rodrigo Cicchelli and Manoel Correa do Lago was released by Editora
SESI SP compiling analyses and reflections from 27 authors on her work.
FLIP – the most important Brazilian International literature Festival
held in Paraty July, 2018 focused on her works and honored her during
its opening and two other different presentations.
She was honored with the invitation to write a chapter on Stravinsky ‘s new book – Abécédaire Stravinsky, organized by the Stravinsky Foundation and being published by Éditions La Baconnière, Genève 2018/2019.
She received a number of grants and awards, such as Guggenheim Foundation (2005) Rockefeller Foundation (1983 and 2007), Bogliasco Foundation (2004 and 2016), CAPS (New York Council on the Arts), besides Vitae and Rioarte Foundations in Brazil. She was elected a life member of the Academia Brasileira de Musica, holds a Master of Arts degree (1968) from Washington University, St. Louis, USA and received an Honorary Doctorate from the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, 2016.
Pioneira no desenvolvimento de um trabalho multimídia no Brasil envolvendo música, teatro, instalações, texto e vídeo, é a primeira entre os compositores nacionais a compor e dirigir suas óperas buscando reformular o formato convencional operístico.
Suas peças tem sido apresentadas em teatros e
festivais como Berliner Festspiele, Haus der Kulturen der Welt , Hebbel
Theater em Berlim, StaadtsTheater – Darmstadt, Bayerischer Rudfunk –
Munique, Festivals Dresdner Tage der Zeitgenössischen Musik – Desden,
Expo 2000 Hannover, Ludwigshafen Opera Festival, Salzburg Festival –
Aspekte, Hayden Planetarium, Carnegie Hall, Brooklyn Academy – em New
York, New Music America Festivals, Miami Planetarium, Bellas Artes –
Mexico, Teatro Avenida, Buenos Aires, Orquesta Sinfonica del Sodre,
Uruguai, Orquesta Sinfônica Nacional de Cuba, Radio France – Paris,
Gaudeamus e Gulbenkian Foundations, Chengdu University – China. No
Brasil, suas obras têm sido apresentadas anualmente em diversos teatros e
festivais incluindo os Theatros Municipal de São Paulo e do Rio de
Janeiro e em diferentes capitais.
Como compositora e pianista, gravou 25 discos
no Brasil, Inglaterra, EUA, Alemanha, Itália e no México; registrou nos
EUA e no Brasil a obra pianística de Olivier Messiaen (selo NAXOS).
Oito de suas óperas multimídias foram gravadas em DVDs distribuídos pela
NAXOS Video Library e pelo SESC, SP.
An unusual trajectory discussed here, from his early poetry works to bio art experiments where his dna is implemented into flowers, to space research, minitel works (french own internet version) and their restoration, to artworks visible from google earth. A fascinating iconic artist.
Eduardo Kac, (born July 3, 1962, Rio de Janeiro,
Brazil), Brazilian American artist who was best known for his works
featuring genetically altered organisms in ways that frequently had conceptual or symbolic import. He termed these endeavours “bio art” or “transgenic art.”
Kac began staging performance art
pieces in Rio de Janeiro as a teenager. He frequented the city’s
beaches and, especially, Cinelandia, a square that served as a hub of
bohemian activity. There Kac would declaim pornographically inspired
poetry, often wearing only a pink miniskirt. During that period he also
experimented with other forms of poetry, graffiti, and multimedia art.
Kac began investigating the use of holograms as a medium for poetic expression, and in 1983 he published his first “holopoem,” “Holo/Olho”
(“Holo/Eye”), which rendered the words of the title in holographic text
that shifted as the viewer changed position. The next year, he debuted a
digital poem, “Não!” (“No!”), which comprised a block of text that scrolled across an LED
display. Kac created a number of other holopoems and digital poems,
some of them more elaborate. He also made his first forays into art
transmitted via Minitel, a videotext precursor
to the Internet. He received a bachelor of arts degree from the School
of Communications at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de
Janeiro in 1985.
1986 Kac debuted what he dubbed a “telepresence” work, a
radio-controlled robot that served as a transmission system for
conversations between viewers and a remote operator. While at the School
of the Art Institute of Chicago (M.F.A., 1990), Kac began a collaborative telepresence work, Ornitorrinco
(“Platypus”). It involved the remote manipulation of a robot, first by
telephone signal (1989) and eventually through the use of the Internet
(1994). In 1996 Kac created another telepresence work, Rara Avis, which consisted of a robotic bird with a camera inside that was positioned in an aviary with live zebra finches. Visitors to the exhibit could don a headset connected to the camera and experience the view inside the aviary.
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Time Capsule, a combination of performance and conceptual art,
was staged in 1997 in São Paulo. The piece centred on the injection
into Kac’s leg of a microchip normally used to track pets; he registered
himself in the tracking company’s database. That year he became an
assistant professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Increasingly preoccupied with the corporeal and visceral, Kac in 1998 first suggested the possibility of transgenic art with an article on a theoretical genetically engineeredfluorescent dog. Though the creation of a glowing canine was ultimately infeasible, in 1999 Kac debuted Genesis, a work that represented his first foray into actual bio art. He translated a passage from the Christian Bible into Morse Code and then into the four-letter code that represented the base pairs of DNA. He commissioned the creation of synthetic DNA using that sequence, and it was injected into bacteria, images of which were projected onto a gallery wall.
In 2000 Kac premiered what would become his best-known and most-controversial work, GFP Bunny. Again mixing conceptual and performance art, Kac centred the project on a rabbit engineered to express the green fluorescent protein (GFP) from the jellyfishAequoria victoria.
The animal, named Alba by Kac and his family, was seen by the public
only in photographs. Though Kac claimed to have commissioned the rabbit,
the French National Agronomic Institute (INRA), which owned it, had
actually, of its own volition, created multiple rabbits that expressed
the protein. GFP was a common tool in cellular research; cells of a
certain type could be engineered to express the protein and thus would
be more easily visible. And, though Kac promoted images that suggested
that the animal glowed a uniform green, in fact only its living tissue
glowed green under blue light of a certain wavelength (meaning that its
fur would not glow). INRA ultimately refused to give the rabbit to Kac, a
turn of events that the artist used to further promote the project
through several shows centred on “freeing Alba.” GFP Bunny was,
Kac claimed, the provocation of the controversy, rather than the rabbit
itself. Debate did indeed ensue; though many questioned the ethics of using genetically modified organisms in art, some applauded the initiation of a dialogue on the subject.
2001 Kac exhibited a project that consisted of a collection of
transgenic animals contained in an acrylic dome. Two years later he
began another transgenic project, which involved the insertion of a
sequence of his own DNA into the genes that coded for the veins in a petunia
flower. He dubbed the resulting plant—engineered by a botanist at the
University of Minnesota—“Edunia” and made it the centre of a new
installation, Natural History of the Enigma (2009).
Kac’s various projects toured widely, and he frequently lectured and wrote about the theoretical foundations of his work. Among his publications were the essay collection Telepresence and Bio Art: Networking Humans, Rabbits, & Robots (2005) and the poetry compilationHodibis Potax (2007). His artist’s book Escracho (1983) became part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. (Richard Pallardy)
During is long career as photographer, cameraman first and director then, Luca de Luigi introduces here his view on filming musical events, from the arena of Verona, to Bayreuth with the director Werner Herzog and then a long series of live concerts at the Montreux Jazz festival including Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock among many others.
Artisan video director for music and documentary films. He has created also cultural shows for the Swiss Italian TV RTS , photographer, cameramen, and since 23 years director.
Artigiano regista video musicale e documentario. Ha creato Emissioni Culturali alla RTS Fotografo, Cameraman e da 23 anni Regista.
In this interview, Jill Scott and I are sitting in a Ethiopian restaurant in Berlin. We learn about her large body of work spanning from performance, video to sonic arts, media arts and neuroscience. How all this could possibly connect ? A series of travels, experiments and encounters informed this important and very inspiring artist, which are embedded into a unique research in art and science.
Professor Dr. Jill Scott is an artist, teacher and context provider with 40 years experience in the unique transdisciplinary field of art, science and technology interactions. Her research spans neuroscience, electronics, ecology, sociology, sculpture, performative installation and media art. Her artwork is focused on the human body, the social and physical impact of technology on our bodies and the health of our environment. She asks: How does technological and biotechnical “progress” affect way we “see” our body? How can artists raise awareness about the human body and the scientific structure of sensory perception? How can artists shed light on the health affects of our physical environment? To address these questions, she builds interactive media installations that immerse viewers inside designed environments. She explores how visual metaphors and poetic analogies might create an alternative forms of art and science communication to help others learn more about sensory perception and reflect on their own ideological, biological, ecological, gendered and ethical futures.
More than 500 references have been issued on the Subrosa label since the 1980’s. Guy Marc Hinant, poet, writer, publisher, music producer and cinematographer together with Fred Walheer, started the label, with recordings of William S. Burroughs. Here he discusses the journey where noise and spectres enter the discussions (literally).
Guy Marc Hinant dirige le label indépendant Sub Rosa spécialisé en musique électronique et expérimentale dont il est le créateur. Il y édite la série An Anthology of Noise and Electronic Music. Il a écrit plusieurs fragments narratifs et notes sur l’esthétique pour les Éditions de l’Heure, diverses revues internationales telles que Leonardo Music Journal (SF), Luna-Park surtout (édité par Marc Dachy à Paris), la revue Pylône (Bruxelles) et pour la revue Lapin (L’Association, Paris). Par ailleurs, il donne des conférences sur l’émergence du bruit dans la musique occidentale – preuves à l’appui. Compagnon de l’auteur de bandes dessinées Dominique Goblet, il apparaît dans ses albums sous le nom de « GM » . Au début des années 1980, il était membre du groupe Pseudo Code avec Alain Neffe et Xavier Ess. En 2001, il fonde OME – L’Observatoire – avec Dominique Lohlé, ensemble ils réalisent une série de documentaires sur l’art de l’écoute et le bruit.
Guy-Marc Hinant (Charleroi, 1960) is a Belgian poet, writer, publisher, music producer and cinematographer. In the late 1980s Hinant, together with Frédéric Walheer, founded the Belgian record label Sub Rosa, which specializes in avant-garde, electronic and noise music. The name of the record label was deduced from the first sentence of Gilles Deleuze’s book Mille plateaux. He lives and works in Brussels. From 2002 to 2004 Hinant worked on the musicological project Anthology of Noise and Electronic Music. Hinant wrote poetry and prose to the works of his lover, the Belgian visual artist Dominique Goblet.
The discussion turns around the long friendship that Stanley Moss developed with the iconic musician from New Orleans Dr John. Stories emerging from their twenties in Los Angeles while working for a musical label, in New York in the 1980’s for parties in loft space where David Byrne was present too, and New Orleans until today. Graphic design, brand strategy, and Dr John: the story of a friendship
Stanley Moss (b. 1948), is founder of DiGanZi Group, a brand advisory, and The Club of Venice, a private conversation on brands and branding. He is global brand ambassador for Gottschalk + Ash of Zürich. He’s also author of novels including The Hacker, HACK IS BACK, The Crimson Garter and Fate & The Pearls, and The Book of Deals. A brand guru, philosopher, writer, and artist, he divides his time between Europe, India and Southern California. He served as CEO of The Medinge Group, the Stockholm-based think-tank on international branding, 2004-2012. He was a fine artist, sponsored by Absolut and Johnnie Walker Black Label, and exhibited landscapes in the US State Department Art in Embassies program. His “New Wave Cookbook” is in the permanent collection of the MoMA NY. He is a faculty member at Academia di Belle Arti Cignaroli of Verona, Italy; Travel Editor for Lucire, a New Zealand fashion magazine; and served on the Board of the Rocket Mavericks Foundation.
Dr. John belongs to a prestigious lineage of New Orleans keyboard greats that includes such names as Professor Longhair, Huey “Piano” Smith and Fats Domino.
His name has become synonymous with the city in which he was born.
Dr. John’s music is stamped with the rhythms and traditions of the
Crescent City, and he has spent a career that now spans more than half a
century championing its music.
His best-known work includes Gris-Gris (1968), an album steeped in the otherworldly sounds of Louisianan voodoo culture; Gumbo (1972), wherein he offered an authoritative overview of New Orleans’ finest music; and In the Right Place (1973),
which gave him the Top Ten hit “Right Place, Wrong Time.” His concerts
are ritual invocations of New Orleans’ enduring musical spirit. More
broadly, he has helped bring the sound of New Orleans into the national
Born Malcolm John “Mac” Rebennack, he learned piano
and guitar as a child. As a child growing up in the 1940s, he was
steeped in the music of the city. “It was a special time in New
Orleans,” he told USA Today’s Edna Gunderson. “The radio
stations played basically New Orleans music, and I thought that was what
the whole world heard.” His father ran an appliance store that carried
records, and he also repaired P.A. systems for clubs around town; it was
through him that young Mac gained exposure to the world of music in New
As a musician, he was schooled by local legends like Walter “Papoose”
Nelson (Professor Longhair’s guitarist), guitarist Roy Montrell,
keyboardist James Booker and Cosimo Matassa (whose J&M Studio was
the hub of the city’s recording scene). Rebennack became one of the
first white sessionmen on the local scene. A fixture in New Orleans’
clubs and studios, Rebennack found himself making music night and day.
“We used to work twelve hours a day, seven days a week, on Bourbon
Street,” he told interviewer Robert Santelli. “That was real easy to do
because there were so many clubs.”
He participated in sessions for records released on such labels as
Ric and Ron, Minit, Ace, Ebb, Specialty and AFO (“All For One,” started
by a cooperative of New Orleans musicians).
In short, Mac Rebennack was a pure product of New Orleans. “The
old-timers schooled me good,” Dr. John reflected. “They brainwashed me
to respect music, whether we were playing rockabilly or blues or rock
Rebennack began recording as far back as 1957 and released his first
single, “Storm Warning,” under his own name in 1959. As much as he loved
New Orleans, he moved to Los Angeles in 1962, joining an exodus of
local musicians who left town after a new district attorney began
cracking down on clubs and nightlife in an effort to curb vice. Working
in L.A. with producer Harold Battiste, a fellow Crescent City
expatriate, he created the character of Dr. John the Night Tripper, a
voodoo sorcerer and healer. His first album, Gris-Gris,
masterfully evoked the mystical spirit of back-alley voodoo in a musical
setting of otherworldly “N’Awlins” swamp funk. It meshed perfectly with
the age of psychedelia in which it was released. Dr. John cut this
startling release during unused session time for a Sonny and Cher album,
as that duo had become involved in a movie project. Such cuts as “I
Walk on Gilded Splinters” evoked a late-night, back-streets netherworld
of ritual and mystery. The album remains a unique achievement in the
realm of popular music, a touchstone to a world that few even knew
Gris-Gris was followed by three more albums in the same vein: Babylon (1969), Remedies (1970) and The Sun, Moon & Herbs (1971).
The last of these was intended to be a three-record set, each
reflecting a different time of day. Some sessions were conducted in
England, with such musicians as Eric Clapton and Mick
Jagger participating. However, because of technical and budgetary
issues, it was pared down to a single album.
In the first half of the 1970’s, Dr. John released a series of albums
that mixed New Orleans classics with original material, all driven by
his remarkable piano playing and superb bands. This change in direction
from underground mystic to overground eminence began with Gumbo,
Dr. John’s fifth album, released in 1972. The idea that he pay tribute
to New Orleans’ musical legacy came from Jerry Wexler, the renowned
producer and talent scout for Atlantic Records, who co-produced Gumbo with
Harold Battiste. Dr. John was signed to Atco, an Atlantic subsidiary,
and Wexler made the suggestion after hearing him warm up with such
material in the studio. It brought broader exposure to both the artist
and his city’s musical heritage.
This paved the way for a pair of albums, In the Right Place (1973) and Desitively Bonnaroo
(1974), that carried his career to the next level. Both were made in
collaboration with Allen Toussaint and the Meters, longtime stalwarts of
the New Orleans scene. “Right Place, Wrong Time,” from In the Right Place,
became a Top Ten hit that spent nearly half a year on the chart. The
album’s other hit single was “Such a Night,” which Dr. John performed at
the Band’s The Last Waltz farewell concert.
In the late Seventies, he moved to New York and worked with producer
Tommy LiPuma and lyricist Doc Pomus, resulting in the albums City Lights (1978) and Tango Palace (1979). In the early Eighties he made his first solo piano recordings (Dr. John Plays Mac Rebennack, 1981, and The Brightest Smile in Town, 1983). He ended the decade with In a Sentimental Mood (1989), an album of standards that reunited him with LiPuma.
The Nineties witnessed an artistic rebirth and rekindled connection
with his New Orleans roots. In 1992, as remarkable as it may seem, Dr.
John actually recorded his first album in New Orleans. Entitled Goin’ Back to New Orleans,
it was “like a little history of New Orleans music—from way back in the
1850s to the 1950s,” Dr. John explained. In 1998 he returned to the
mystical aura of his Gris-Gris period on Anutha Zone, which included cameos from such younger British admirers as Paul Weller and members of Spiritualized and Supergrass. Creole Moon,
released in 2001, assimilated the various aspects of New Orleans music
into a tasty gumbo. In 2004, Dr. John again saluted the Big Easy’s
musical heritage on N’Awlinz: Dis, Dat or D’Udda, which rounded
up such New Orleans legends as Earl Palmer, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown,
Willie Tee, Snooks Eaglin, Eddie Bo, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and a
member of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.
Beyond his vast discography as a recording artist, the list of
sessions on which he has played for others is lengthy and impressive
enough to merit his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a
sideman, too. Dr. John’s bottomless sessionography includes releases by
Maria Muldaur, Johnny Winter, Buddy Guy and Junior Wells, Van Morrison,
the Band, Frank Zappa, Ringo Starr, Canned Heat, the Rolling Stones and
countless others. He has even done well for himself as a jingle writer,
tinkling the ivories on funky-sounding commercials for Levi’s blues
jeans and Popeye’s Chicken.
For more than three decades Dr. John has been a perennial performer
at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. He has also become an
unofficial spokesman and ambassador for the city and its musical
history. Meanwhile he continues to make creative, challenging records in
the New Orleans style.
In 2008 Dr. John and his band, the Lower 911, released City That Care Forgot.
The most topical and hard-hitting album of his career, it addressed the
toll taken on his beloved hometown by decades of neglect and its near
destruction by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. City That Care Forgot
won Dr. John a Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues Album—the fifth of
his career. Meanwhile, he continues to keep the city’s musical heritage
and history alive.
“The most important thing to remember is this: New Orleans music was
not invented,” Dr. John noted in 1992. “It kind of grew up
naturally…joyously…just for fun. That’s it. Just plain down-to-earth
happy-times music. When I was growing up in the Third Ward, I used to
think, ‘Oh, man, this music makes me feel the best!”