Mac "Dr. John" Rebennack has been successfully "doctorating the souls" of audiences with his piano for decades, and it's a bit disillusioning to find that when the good doctor came home sick last week following a Japanese tour, he went to see a more conventional MD.
One might have expected him to cure himself with a prescription of mojo root and graveyard dirt, given the "hoodoo" image Rebennack concocted for his Dr. John alter ego in the late '60s. Rebennack made hypnotic music that sounded like it was floating out of a murky swamp, and he himself was made up to look like a voodoo priest who was at least part werewolf.
Rebennack has since emerged as perhaps the greatest surviving statesman of certain New Orleans musical traditions. The piano wizardry of the Crescent City's Professor Longhair, Huey (Piano) Smith and James Booker can be heard in his playing, along with his own formidable keyboard personality.
Nearly 50 now, Rebennack has been playing professionally since he was 13. He had Top 10 hits in 1973 with "Such a Night" and "Right Place, Wrong Time" but had no major label contract for most of the '80s. A well-received album of standards, "In a Sentimental Mood," was released on Warner Bros. last year.