Northern soul, deep funk, and fine living in Pittsburgh. You are what you dance to.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Burn, K-Doe, Burn!!

Final post of my morning catch-up.

Just back from New Orleans, where much beauty was beheld in the form of crawfish etouffe, red beans and rice, Sazerac, Vieux Carre and Ramos Gin Fizz cocktails (big thanks to Marvin Allen at the Carousel bar for being one of the world's greatest bartenders and mixologists), Abita beer, and, of course, soul, R&B and jazz music.

Three places stand out in my mind as Soulcialist highlights: Donna's bar and grill with the world-famous Treme Brass Band, who proved that anarchistic brass-band music is amongst the world's most excitingly soulful, even (especially?) when played by musicians who seem to have no more than a passing-through knowledge of the real, physical world. These guys didn't seem like they knew there were instruments, nonetheless a club and an audience. Yet the full-frontal cacophonous chaos they produced ended up being spot-on perfect for the vieux carre - taunting, laughing, 75% overjoyed and 25% death-march music.

Secondly, Jim Russell's Records in the Lower Garden District. Again, chaos: Like the best record stores, there seemed to be absolutely no rhyme nor reason to the organization. But, while that unknown copy of "Do I Love You" or Frankie Beverly never reared its head, I picked up some lovely if less-rare stormers to keep the masses happy at the White Eagle on Friday night. Most importantly, Jim's daughter-in-law Denise ranks up there with the Jerry's crew in terms of friendly-and-helpful - a rare commodity in the record game. (PS - Jim's a Pittsburgher by birth and rearin'. Rawk on, yinz.)

Third, and most importantly, Ernie K-Doe's Mother-in-Law Lounge. Certainly the greatest bar I've ever walked into - a shrine to the late great self-declared "Emperor of the Universe", Ernie K-Doe, singer of hits such as "Mother in Law" and "A Certain Girl", noted eccentric, and creator, from beyond the grave, of some damn fine hot sauce as it turns out. The lovely and gracious Antoinette K-Doe, Ernie's widow, greeted us at the door and stayed with us all night, bowling me over with tales about her pals - you know, like Jerry and Billy Butler, James Brown, Jessie Hill, Robert Parker, etc. Even Antoinette refers to her place as "impossible to describe", so I'd best wait 'til it's all sunk in a bit more. Suffice to say: GO.


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