Shamelessly paraphrasing a line from the Stevie Ray, Doyle Bramhall song The House is Rockin’, “…don’t bother knocking, come on in” is the only way to describe PBS’ house tonight as Hugh Laurie pays tribute to the history and tradition of New Orleans Blues. Hugh Laurie: Let Them Talk — A Celebration of New Orleans Blues premieres tonight on PBS stations nationwide as part of the Great Performances series.
This is a lifelong dream of the British comedy (i.e. Blackadder, Jeeves & Wooster, Fry & Laurie) star turned American television MD as he began his musical journey at an early age once being introduced to the likes of Professor Longhair, Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon, who is widely recognized as one of the founders of the Chicago blues sound.
The cool thing about this program is not only the obvious love for blues music that Laurie has but his love for New Orleans. The show not only showcases his musical chops. It’s part travelogue beginning with a couple of Texas stops in Austin, where he sits in at Maggie Mae’s on Sixth Street with Miss Lavelle White and, then, joining an impromptu guitar picking circle in Luckenbach before getting to his own personal “Everest”, New Orleans. When he arrives, he’s meets the dream team back-up band and then NOLA legends, Allen Toussaint and Irma Thomas along with NOLA adopted son, Tom Jones.
The program centers around a live performance at the historic Latrobe’s building in the French Quarter along with some studio sessions where he recorded his recently released CD, Let Them Talk. Some priceless moments of Laurie making the LA to New Orleans trip in a Ford Galaxy 500 and then touring the French Quarter on a bicycle along with some music gold. Tuning in or DVR tonight on PBS is required, btw.
Programming note: If you’re in the North Texas viewing area of KERA, we will be following tonight’s 8:00pm broadcast of GP with Fats Domino: Walking Back to New Orleans at 9:00pm and, at 10:00pm, Allen Toussaint: The Soul of New Orleans. Enjoy.