(GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass.) – Dr. John and the Lower 911 will perform on Saturday, July 23 at 8 at the Mahaiwe. A 2011 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Malcolm John “Mac” Rebennack, Jr., better known by the stage name Dr. John, is an American musical icon, in many ways the living incarnation of New Orleans musical tradition, but also a pianist, singer and performer whose music has ranged from funk to jazz to blues to jam-band to Tin Pan Alley pop standards.
After a fifteen year career as a regional musician – first playing guitar until his left ring finger was shot off in a barfight, then working as a session pianist for the likes of Sonny and Cher in Los Angeles – Dr. John first came to national attention as a performer in his own right when he adopted the persona of Dr. John, the Night Tripper, and laced his performances with elaborate costumes, glitter, headdresses, and faux voodoo ceremony.
Having shed the Night Tripper act, Dr. John hit big in 1973, teaming with New Orleans producing legend Allen Toussaint and funk band the Meters for In the Right Place, his hit album that spawned the singles “Right Place, Wrong Time” and “Such a Night,” the latter of which was revived for his performance at The Band’s farewell concert captured in the Martin Scorsese film, The Last Waltz.
In the late 1980s Dr. John’s career received an additional boost when he reinvented himself as a gravelly crooner with In a Sentimental Mood, an album of pre-rock pop standards that was a surprise hit. In more recent years, Mac Rebennack has been recognized for his longstanding achievements, had his distinctive voice featured in commercials and in movies, found musical kinship with improvisational-minded jam-bands that rely on the funk rhythms that are at the heart of his music, and been an outspoken social critic and musical voice in the wake of the destruction of his hometown by Hurricane Katrina (as captured on his album, The City that Care Forgot).