The earliest track I can recall hearing that had some sort of New Orleans connection was something about Don’t You Know Yockomo by an expatriate New Zealander named Dinah Lee. And one of the all-time great New Orleans standards Ooh Poo Pah Doo, originally done by Jessie Hill, ended up as an extended jam by Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs in the early seventies.

Maybe someone more in touch with the way the music scene worked in the early to mid-sixties can explain how these things came to be, or how Normie Rowe and the Playboys ended up recording a Jaime Robbie Robertson song called The Stones That I Throw - I saw the writer’s name credited in a booklet containing the lyrics to various chart-toppers when I first started paying attention to music in about 1966, well before The Band emerged. 

Don’t ask me how I can recall that snippet from the past when large chunks of more significant information have disappeared .

I wasn’t quite sure how that obscure R&B made its way down under, but it did, and when Dr John was interviewed as part of the media promotion, I learned he played on a lot of Crescent City R&B, knew many of the major participants, and had a lot to do with someone called Professor Longhair.

Professor Longhair wasn’t exactly a household name, and finding any of his stuff on record wasn’t particularly easy but I managed to track down a couple of albums and there was something about the piano playing that stuck with me. 

Of course, part of the romance was reading the liner notes to House Party New Orleans Style and discovering that someone who’d produced hit singles in the fifties and influenced people like Dr John, Allen Toussaint, and the Meters had ended up sweeping the floor of a record shop somewhere in the Ninth Ward in New Orleans.

I’d heard about the work Sam Charters, Dick Waterman, Al Wilson and John Fahey had done tracking down old blues men at the start of the sixties, but it almost beggared belief that ten years later, with the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival already underway that enthusiasts still had difficulty finding someone whose records were a regular feature of New Orleans juke boxes. 

B© Ian Hughes 2012