by Chad Campbell, senior producer
I grew up a few miles from New Orleans, on the West Bank of the Mississippi River. My parents and I moved away when I was 14 years old and from 1971 until 1985, I probably set foot in the city itself fewer than a dozen times. I was a picky eater and spoiled, so I never bothered to try crawfish, gumbo or jambalaya. I never listened to jazz music, but I did try to play the clarinet for about a week in fourth grade. I remember my mom liked Fats Domino but I’m sad to say that in my formative years that I never heard of the rest of the city’s musical legends, including today’s guest, Allen Toussaint. When Bob, Geoffrey Redick and I went down to New Orleans in late April, Toussaint was one of the last interviews we scheduled. We squeezed him in before heading to the fairgrounds for our live taste of Jazz Fest, and I’m so glad we did. He met us in the lobby of the Westin, a high-rise hotel overlooking the river and the French Quarter, and took us up to his suite for the interview.
Toussaint’s stories of a lifetime spent in the city’s music scene were captivating and he sounded almost as good as he looked. Toussaint is a sharp dresser and wore a blue pin-striped suit paired with a striped orange shirt and tie. And I almost forgot to mention the matching pocket square. Toussaint has played with, written for or produced the likes of Fats Domino, Lee Dorsey, The Meters, Irma Thomas, Ernie K Doe, Paul McCartney and Elvis Costello (an artist Toussaint respects immensely) — as well as a younger crop of New Orleans musicians including our previous guests Trombone Shorty and Theresa Andersson. Toussaint’s latest CD is a batch of standard, mostly instrumentals called The Bright Mississippi. The CD he made with Elvis Costello is titled The River in Reverse.
Click here to see a short movie of the view we shared briefly with Allen Toussaint - and here you can see other movies from our series.
Here’s a map of our interviews and other points of interst in New Orleans.
View BES in New Orleans (04/2010) in a larger map