Dr. John and the Lower 911 – Sippiana Hericane

Music Reviews Dr. John
Dr. John and the Lower 911 – Sippiana Hericane

Water, Water, Everywhere…

Big Easy piano man Dr. John’s post-Katrina release, Sippiana Hericane, is a testament to the old Southern conviction that when the going gets tough, the tough sing gospel. Short (25:25) but bittersweet, the four song mini-album strolls reverently through classic New Orleans musical styles—soul, jazz, blues and spirituals—in a poignant attempt to make sense of Katrina’s devastation. At the album’s core is “Wade: Hurricane Suite,” a four-part improvisational dive into Katrina and its aftermath where grief brims just below the surface, swelling fiercely with the dark “Storm Surge” and ebbing mournfully on “Calm After the Storm,” before receding entirely with the determined spiritual “Wade in the Water.” As always, Dr. John’s grooves are infectious, but Sippiana doesn’t just make you want to shake your hips, it hints at catharsis. The album builds to a hopeful note—the gospel/blues number “Sweet Home New Orleans”—and to the firm declaration that the Crescent City is “gonna be back twice as strong.” Benefiting The New Orleans Musicians Clinic, the Jazz Foundation of America and The Voice of The Wetlands, Sippiana is an inspiration and a crusade—and a passionate celebration of Dr. John’s hometown.

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