Dr. John at Bearsville Theater – Bearsville, NY

Dr. John at Bearsville Theater – Bearsville, NY

On Fat Tuesday, New Orleans icon, Rock Hall inductee, Elmore cover story and former Woodstock resident Dr., John returned to his upstate NY stomping ground to play a phenomenal 90-minute set to a sold-out house.

The evening started early with a N’Orleans buffet dinner provided by New World Home Cooking, but things really got steamy when Dr. John and the Lower 911 took the stage, ripping through some 20 songs and blowing a speaker in the process. Two days before, Dr. John’s long-time drummer, Herman Ernest, had succumbed to cancer, but the audience would never have known from the kick-ass music delivered by the Good Doctor, new drummer Shannon Powell, Lower 911 veteran bassist David Barard and guitarist John Fohl.

Dr. John at Bearsville Theater – Bearsville, NY

Sporting impenetrable black shades and a blinding purple suit, Dr. John skipped between a lush grand piano and funky organ, with a couple forays into smokin’ guitar licks. Pausing only for an occasional quip (“It’s hard to look sane wearing a straight jacket”), the band ripped through favorites like “Right Place Wrong Time” (“We’ve all been there,” he said.), “St. James Infirmary,” “How Come My Dog Don’t Bark When You Come Around?” and “Iko-Iko,” as well as songs obscure enough that, in one aside, Dr. John said, “It’s been so long, I hope I remember the lyrics.” When an enthusiastic fan called out a song, the response from the stage was, “It’s Mardi Gras, and I’m going to do what I feel like.” And so he did, and it was exactly what The Doctor ordered.

—Suzanne Cadgene

Photos: Ed McCarthy

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