I cannot find my copy of Professor Longhair’s New Orleans Piano, and it’s driving me nuts.
I have some Dr. John to fill the gap. But on Mardi Gras, and most other days for that matter, Longhair is my preferred go-to for raw, funky, off-kilter Crescent City musical irrationality.
I turned to YouTube for a fix. What I found there reminded me of one of the great factoids from the old days of R’n’B (if that’s how New Orleans music can be classed):
In 1949, Professor Longhair made his first recordings leading a band called the Shuffling Hungarians.
That is just about the baddest, silliest, most wonderful band name anyone’s come up with, even after 65 years. And truly, it is a name deserving of more recognition. Perhaps even a plaque in the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, which has already inducted Longhair as a solo performer.
It pains me to admit that I can name four members of the wretched REO Speedwagon off the top of my head, but the members of the Shuffling Hungarians have completely evaded my grasp. (The race of fame does not often go to the shuffling.)
As a taste of the Shuffling Hungarians’ particular brand of madness, YouTube offers up “She Ain’t Got No Hair,” one of a raftload of blues and R’n’B songs concerning bald-headed women. It will never be used to sell alopecia prescription drugs on daytime TV, which is probably just as well.
Mix up a few Hurricanes, then, and let the good times shuffle:
4 thoughts on “Hey, looka there.”
Today is your lucky day!!! You gave (er, was it “lent”?) “New Orleans Piano” to me! As the fates will have it, it will be in your hands in two days! Happy Mardi Gras!
Yes, it was a gift to you and then you burned me a copy. I have listened more to the burn than you have to the original — I think it was a little unpolished for your taste.
Thanks for your assistance. And laissez les bons temps roulez.
Well, I love Dr. John, and I love Henry Butler’s N’Orleans stuff, which I guess is a little more polished than either the Professor or James Booker, whom Eric tried to turn me onto. I don’t consider myself a music snob, but I guess there is some reasonable level of proficiency that I consider tables stakes. I think Rebennack & Butler prove that it’s possible to maintain the raw rhythmic pulse that makes N’Orleans music so great and yet do it with a degree of finesse.
It’s clear listening to “She Ain’t Got No Hair” where rock ‘n roll great Antoine Domino comes from, musically. Fats is no Van Cliburn, but has just a modicum more finesse than the shufflers above.