Dr. John & the Lower 911 | SPACE | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Dr. John & the Lower 911 All Ages Early Warnings (Music) Recommended Soundboard

When: Sun., Sept. 4, 7 & 10 p.m. 2011

Though the two women delivering an Oglala Lakota chant on the title track of Dr. John's 2010 album, Tribal (429), may suggest a narrow interpretation of the word, he intends a more ecumenical reading—he wants to convey that we're all part of the same tribe. "Tribal" is one of several songs that observe the toxic divisiveness afflicting the U.S., and whether Mac "Dr. John" Rebennack is addressing income disparities ("Big Gap," one of two written by Allen Toussaint), reckless stewardship of the environment ("Lissen at Our Prayer"), or trust-destroying finger-pointing ("Them"), he sees a population splitting apart when it should be banding together. Aside from old-fashioned empathy, Rebennack's default solution is the healing power of music, which he can wield himself ("Call me Doc, your medicine man / I got the cure in the palm of my hand") or channel from others—he magnifies the message of Alvin Batiste's "Music Came" so that a song about how music helped slaves endure injustice becomes an anthem about its ability to redeem anyone. Backing him up are the Lower 911, a nimble, groovy band who handle the full range of New Orleans R&B, rock, soul, and funk like it's in their blood—and when you're from the Crescent City, sometimes it is. —Peter Margasak

Price: $30-$48

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