On Friday the 25th we left work early, met at North Billerica, and then hit the road for Vermont, ending in Burlington down the big hill toward the big lake as the darkness settled. It was a beautiful drive with many late Fall vistas of New England mountains, rocks, cliffs, and valleys.
Burlington can get crowded and it was hopping on that Friday night, but we parked where Fred told us to and then walked the few blocks over to meet him and Maree at the Pizzeria Verita on St. Paul Street. After a really good round of assorted appetizers and some gourmet pizza dinner, we sauntered around the corner to the Flynn Center For the Performing Arts ... we were going to see Dr. John!
The band came out and did an intro and then the Doctor himself came out, dressed to the nines of course and leaning on a dazzling cane. He sat at the biggest of grand pianos and spent most of the night on that, but switched to a funky electric piano for a few songs, shook some voodoo sticks that made excellent jangling sounds on one song, and even strolled over to pick up his stratocaster and wail some blues on that.
The band was led by trombonist Sarah Morrow, who was fantastic. She did some things to the trombone that I didn't believe even when I saw them, like singing through it. She also contributed some great backup vocals and tambourine. Couldn't pick up everybody else's names, but there was Dave on guitar, Ronnie on drums, a bassist, and an organist. All were fantastic players and one of the best parts of the concert was just that: it was a great *concert* with excellent song after excellent song, led strongly by Morrow, featuring all of the players in ensemble and taking leads, and centered around the incredible keyboards of the Doctor himself.
I'm not deeply into the Dr. John's music and so didn't recognize all the songs, but I was more than psyched to finally see him ... he's been around all my life. They played one long set, opening with Iko Iko and also covering Let the Good Times Roll, The Monkey Speaks His Mind, Walk On Gilded Splinters, and his recent hit, Big Shot. They closed the set with a long number in which they introduced the band and everybody took a lead. The Doctor then grabbed his cane and walked slowly off the stage to much fanfare. After the band finished and left the stage themselves, he came back out for a long solo on the grand, and then the band came out and launched into the encore, Such a Night. The crowd had been pretty reserved for much of the evening, but was standing and dancing and singing by that point.
Ran into my old classmate Reed, who lives in Burlington. We stood around and talked on the sidewalk until they shut the place down, and then drove behind Fred and Maree back to Stowe, where we drank beer and talked late into the night. Woke up to a late Fall snowstorm, hung out some more, and then made our way back to Massachusetts, after stopping in Montpelier (Three Penny Tap Room) for lunch.
Here's the Doctor doing The Monkey Speaks His Mind with his earlier band ... this was the song of the night for me: