Living as a Mod in the 21st Century

Sunday, July 18, 2010

An unforgettable night with a soul legend...

"I like cocky people. Cocky people always have something to live up too."
Allen Toussaint, Montreal, July 4th 2010

When do you get to see a true legend of soul in an intimate setting with only 424 other lucky, dedicated fans? Well, for me, it happens only once in a blue moon. Allen Toussaint is one such legend. He's "the" reference in New Orleans soul and R&B. Before my trip to the Big Easy a few months ago, I didn't know much about this prolific singer, songwriter, musician, arranger, producer, record label owner, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and all around musical genius. Many of you will know his songs without realizing he's the talent behind it. Working in the Coal Mine made famous by Lee Dorsey is the perfect example. Maybe you are familiar with a few of the obscure artists that he collaborated with or covered his songs: The Who, Elvis Costello, Paul McCartney, The Hollies, Paul Weller, Otis Redding and the list goes on...

 A few Allen Toussaint produced 45s on different labels 
brought back from my trip to the Crescent City

It's been a while since I've been to a concert and felt privileged and grateful to be there. Without overstating things, it was a once in a lifetime chance. Mister Toussaint, a stage and a piano in a small venue is all I needed to be in a blissful state.

 In a span of two hours, he made me go through a myriad of emotions. He was charming, funny, touching and endearing. One moment, I was laughing uncontrollably and the next I had tears in my eyes. And the hits succeeded one another, A Certain Girl, Mother-In-Law, Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky, and Yes We Can. I was lucky enough to have heard one of my all time favourites, Fortune Teller recorded by Benny Spellman. Another little known band called The Rolling Stones later covered it. "I liked the Rolling Stones. They made me roll all the way to the bank", he said, "I just wished they would have kept on rolling..."

This is just one of the little gems he came up with when he introduced a song. The high point of the evening had to be his 15 minute long rendition of Southern Nights. The piece itself is enough to bring you to tears but to have Allen Toussaint add anecdotes from his childhood all throughout the song is enough to bring you over the edge. His visits to his family in the country is said to be the inspiration for the song. "I loved visiting my aunts and uncles. They lived in an old grey house. Really old. So old, I think they built them that way." he would reminisce. "You heard sounds and saw animals you didn't see in the city: cows, horses, chickens... You know...The type of chicken that doesn't come in a bucket."

I liked Allen Toussaint before I ever saw him live. But now that I did, I can honestly say that I appreciate him even more. I left with a smile on my face, knowing that I was just in the presence of greatness. Come back soon Mr. Toussaint...

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