Monday, January 30, 2012

Trombone Shorty wins big at Best of the Beat

Offbeat Magazine's annual "Best of the Beat" Awards honored Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue with six top awards: Artist of the Year and Album of the Year for 'For True,' Best R&B/Funk Artist and Album, Best Trombonist for Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews, and Best Music Video for For True single "Do To Me." This is Trombone Shorty's first win for Best Music Video, but the second year in a row winning in each of the other categories, and he's now won Artist of the Year and Best R&B/Funk Artist 4 times each.

Andrews will continue to relentlessly tour in 2012 with his new album For True (Verve Forecast) having just tallied an 11th week atop Billboard's Contemporary Jazz chart. This past weekend Andrews left for two shows in Japan, which will be immediately followed by his debut in Ecuador, and later in February, his first shows in Moscow along with additional tour dates in France, the U.K. and Spain. Andrews recently added upcoming U.S. tour dates with Lenny Kravitz in Minneapolis on Feb. 7 as well as shows with the Zac Brown Band March 10, 11 and 23.

Andrews appeared with New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu this past Friday to donate specially designed Trombone Shorty trumpets and trombones to students at Andrews' alma mater, New Orleans' Warren Easton High School, as part of Andrews' ongoing "Horns for Schools" project. Andrews performed for the students, joined by the Mayor on trumpet.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Full Jazz Fest 2012 lineup announced

Here's the day-to-day lineup for Jazz Fest. Watch the Texas Tornados steal the opening day show.


The Beach Boys reunion feat. Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston, and David Marks, Bon Iver, Steel Pulse, Buckwheat Zydeco, Givers, Zebra, Seun Kuti & Egypt 80, Gomez, The Texas Tornados feat. Flaco Jimenez, Augie Myers, and Shawn Sahm, The Dixie Cups, Cubano Be, Cubano Bop: Poncho Sanchez & His Latin Band feat. Terence Blanchard, Chuck Leavell & Friends with special guest Bonnie Bramblett, Irma Thomas' Tribute to Mahalia Jackson, Eric Lindell, New Orleans Classic R&B Revue feat. Frankie Ford, Al "Carnival Time" Johnson, Robert "Barefootin" Parker, and Blue Eyed Soul, James Andrews & the Crescent City Allstars, BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet, Butch Thompson, Kirk Joseph's Backyard Groove, Chubby Carrier & the Bayou Swamp Band, Leyla McCalla, Sasha Masakowski, Johnny Sketch & the Dirty Notes, Slavic Soul Party!, Jamil Sharif, Stephanie Jordan Big Band, Leah Chase, The Revivalists, Lil' Buck Sinegal Blues Band, Shades of Praise: New Orleans Interracial Gospel Choir, Tim Laughlin, Dukes of Dixieland, Geno Delafose & French Rockin' Boogie, Betty Winn & One A-Chord, Young Pinstripe Brass Band, Dee-1, Fredy Omar con su Banda, Kim Carson & the Enablers, Sammy Rimington International Band, The Electrifying Crown Seekers, Guitar Lightnin' Lee & the Thunder Band, Ivoire Spectacle feat. Seguenon Kone, Wimberly Family Gospel Singers, Henry Gray & the Cats, Real Untouchables Brass Band, James Rivers Movement, Goldman Thibodeaux & the Lawtell Playboys, Louis Ford & His Dixie Flairs, Comanche Hunters and Semolian Warriors Mardi Gras Indians, Cindy Scott, Golden Voices Community Choir, Zulu and Big Nine Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs, The Boyz Singers and Dancers, Traditional Dance by Asociacion de Peruanos en Louisana, Northwestern University Jazz Ensemble, Black Foot Hunters and Black Mohawk Mardi Gras Indians, Beth Patterson & Potent Bathers, Miss Claudia & her Biergartners, Alana Villavaso, Reverend Jermaine Landrum & the Abundant Praise Revival Choir, Brass Band Throwdown with Martin Behrman, W.J. Fischer, and Kate Middleton Elementary Schools, The Bester Singers, Dynamic Smooth Family Gospel Singers, GrayHawk presents Native American Lore and Tales, New Orleans School of Circus Arts & I.S.L., Geronimo Hunters and Creole Osceolas Mardi Gras Indians, Keep N It Real and We Are One Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs...


Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Jill Scott, Feist, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Bobby Rush, Dave Koz, Irvin Mayfield & the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Soul Rebels, Israel Houghton and New Breed, Amanda Shaw & the Cute Guys, Walter "Wolfman" Washington & the Roadmasters, Cheikh Lô of Senegal, Voice of the Wetlands Allstars feat. Tab Benoit, Dr. John, Cyril Neville, Anders Osborne, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux, Johnny Vidocovich, Waylon Thibodeaux, and Johnny Sansone, Nathan & the Zydeco Cha Chas, The New Orleans Bingo! Show, Tribute to Wardell Quezergue feat. Jean Knight, The Dixie Cups, Robert "Barefootin" Parker, and Tony Owens, Pine Leaf Boys, Meschiya Lake & the Little Big Horns, Khris Royal & Dark Matter, Dr. Michael White & the Original Liberty Jazz Band feat. Thais Clark, Luther Kent, Shamarr Allen & the Underdawgs, Roddie Romero & the Hub City All Stars, Evan Christopher, Gal Holiday & the Honky Tonk Revue, Midnite Disturbers, Savoy Center of Eunice Saturday Cajun Jam, Heritage Hall Jazz Band feat. Jewel Brown, Storyville Stompers Brass Band, Watson Memorial Teaching Ministries, The Gospel According to Jazz feat. BJ Crosby, Judy Davis, Danon Smith, and Yolanda Windsay, Jeremy Lyons with members of Morphine, Peter Martin, Empress Hotel, Lars Edegran & the New Orleans Ragtime Orchestra, Paulin Brothers Brass Band, Kristin Diable & the City, D.L. Menard & the Louisiana Aces, The Courtyard Kings, Creole Wild West Mardi Gras Indians, City of Love Music & Worship Arts, Brother Tyrone & the Mindbenders, High Ground Drifters Bluegrass Band, Tom McDermott, Kevin Bryan, DJ Soul Sister, Bamboula 2000, Pastor Jai Reed, Marc Stone, Golden Comanche and Seminoles Mardi Gras Indians, Tonia Powell & the Left Field Band, SUBR Jazzy Jags, Cameron Dupuy & the Cajun Troubadours, 101 Runners, Tonia Scott & the Anointed Voices, Loyola University Jazz Band, Javier Tobar & Elegant Gypsy, The Jones Sisters, Young Band Nation Blues Project, RRAAMS Drum and Dance, Archdiocese of New Orleans Gospel Choir, Josh Kagler & Harmonistic Praise Crusade, New Wave Brass Band, Nine Times Men, Single Ladies, and Single Men Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs, Ashe Cultural Arts Center Kuumba Institute, Delgado Community College Jazz Band, The Heavenly Melodies Gospel Singers, Wild Mohicans and Red, White & Blue Mardi Gras Indians, The Boyz Singers and Dancers, Muggivan School of Irish Dance, Dumaine Gang, Divine Ladies, Family Ties, and Men of Class Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs, Puppet Arts Theater...


Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Al Green, John Mayer, Dr. John & the Lower 911, Janelle Monae, Pete Fountain, Yolanda Adams, Iron & Wine, Cowboy Mouth, Dianne Reeves, Tab Benoit, Sonny Landreth, Gary Clark, Jr., Papa Grows Funk, C.J. Chenier & the Red Hot Louisiana Band, Nicholas Payton SeXXXtet, Ellis Marsalis, Lindigo of Reunion Island feat. Fixi of France, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux & the Golden Eagles, Ironin' Board Sam, Evelyn Turrentine Agee, Debo Band: Ethiopian Groove Collective, Corey Harris & Phil Wiggins, Sunpie & the Louisiana Sunspots' International Accordian Summit, New Orleans Klezmer Allstars, Treme Brass Band, Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys, Tribute to Alex Chilton feat. Dave Pirner, Alex McMurray, Susan Cowsill, and Rene Coman, Los Po-Boy-Citos, Batiste Brothers, Victor Goines, Washboard Rodeo, Leo Jackson & the Melody Clouds, Bill Summers & Jazalsa, Brice Miller & Mahogany Brass Band, Jumpin' Johnny Sansone, Ernie Vincent & the Top Notes, Golden Star Hunters Mardi Gras Indians, Don Vappie & the Creole Jazz Serenaders, Lionel Ferbos & the Palm Court Jazz Band, Kirk Joseph's Tuba Tuba, Gospel Soul Children, Panorama Jazz Band, Hadley J. Castille Family & the Sharecroppers Family Band, Pat Casey & the New Sound, Erika Flowers, Clive Wilson's New Orleans Serenaders with guest Butch Thompson, Morning Star Baptist Church Mass Choir, Spencer Bohren, Chris Clifton, Gospel Diva Lois Dejean, Carrollton Hunters, Big Chief Goodman & the Flaming Arrows, and Ninth Ward Hunters Mardi Gras Indians, Johnette Downing, Tornado Brass Band, Big Steppers, Untouchables, and Furious Five Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs, E'Dana & Company, N'Fungola Sibo West African Dance Company, Ayla Miller Band, Adella Adella the Storyteller, Franklin Avenue Baptist Church Mass Choir, Heritage School of Music Band, Kai Knight's Silhouette Dance Ensemble, Olympia Aid, New Look, First Division, and Secondline Jammers Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs, NOCCA Jazz Ensemble, Sunpie Barnes presents Louisiana Creole Music, Ninth Ward Navajo, Black Eagles and Shawee Mardi Gras Indians, The Boyz Singers and Dancers, Bishop Sean Elder & the Mount Hermon Baptist Church Mass Choir...


Eddie Vedder, Florence + the Machine, Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk, Ani DiFranco, Esperanza Spalding: Radio Music Society, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, James Cotton "Superharp" Band, Regina Carter's "Reverse Thread", George Porter, Jr. & Runnin' Pardners, Henry Butler, Honey Island Swamp Band, Glen Hansard, Little Freddie King, Astral Project, Mia Borders, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Banu Gibson, Rosie Ledet & the Zydeco Playboys, Chico Trujillo of Chile, Bill Miller, Marlon Jordan Quartet, Iguanas, Free Agents Brass Band, Cheick Hamala Diabate of Mali, Raymond A. Myles Singers 30th Anniversary Reunion, Joint's Jumpin', Alto Saxophone Woodshed feat. Aaron Fletcher, Kid Chocolate, The Roots of Music Marching Crusaders, Native Nations Intertribal, Yvette Landry, Palmetto Bug Stompers, Magnolia Jazz Band of Norway feat. Topsy Chapman, The Stooges Brass Band, Silky Sol, Michael Ward, Flow Tribe, Otra, J. Monque'D Blues Band, Kipori "Baby Wolf" Woods, Amina Figarova, Hot Club of New Orleans, Dayna Kurtz, Kristi Guillory & the Midtown Project, Robert Jardell & Pure Cajun, Original Pinettes Brass Band, Forever Jones, Lyle Henderson & Emanu-El, Fi Yi Yi & the Mandingo Warriors, Black Seminoles Mardi Gras Indians, Kourtney Heart, The Mighty Supremes, Seva Venet & the Storyville String Band, Kelcy Mae, Julio y Cesar, Culu Children's Traditional African Dance Company & Stilt Walkers, Judy Stock, Young Fellaz Brass Band, VIP Ladies, Revolution, and Ladies of Unity Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs, 7th Ward Creole Hunters and Cheyenne Mardi Gras Indians, McDonogh #35 High School Gospel Choir, Gospel Inspirations of Boutte, Eleanor McMain Singing Mustangs, O. Perry Walker Charter High School Gospel Choir, Tulane University Jazz Ensemble, Jazztories Puppets, Opera a la Carte, Recovery School District Talented in Theater Performers, Young Audiences Performing Arts Showcase feat Ballet, Tap and West African Dance...


Zac Brown Band, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, Rodrigo y Gabriela and C.U.B.A., Bunny Wailer, Mystikal, Mavis Staples, Marcia Ball, Bonerama, Little Anthony & The Imperials, Bruce Hornsby, Donald Harrison, The Pedrito Martinez Group, Theresa Andersson, Sarah Jarosz, Deacon John, Terri Lyne Carrington's Mosaic, Wayne Toups & ZyDeCajun, Wycliffe Gordon Quintet: Hello Pops Tribute to Louis Armstrong, Germaine Bazzle, Wanda Rouzan, Delfeayo Marsalis' Uptown Orchestra, Bruce Daigrepont Cajun Band, Lil' Nathan & the Zydeco Big Timers, Mark Braud's New Orleans Jazz Giants, Topsy Chapman & Solid Harmony, Hot 8 Brass Band, Ingrid Lucia, Jim McCormick Band, The Revealers, Yvette Landry Band, Baritone Bliss, The Bucktown Allstars, Phillip Manuel, Reggie Hall & the Twilighters feat. Lady Bee, Vivaz!, Nayo Jones, Big Al Carson & the Blues Masters, Courtney Bryan, Feufollet, Joe Hall & the Cane Cutters, Doreen Ketchen's Jazz New Orleans, Connie Jones & the Crescent City Jazz Band, Bryan Lee & the Blues Power Band, Kumbuka African Dance & Drum Collective, Ted Winn, St. Joseph the Worker Choir, Forgotten Souls, Brass Bed, Zazou City, Kid Simmons' Local International Allstars, Smitty Dee's Brass Band, John Lawrence & Ven Pa' Ca Flamenco Dancers, Lesa Cormier & the Sundown Playboys, Zulu Male Ensemble, Connie & Dwight with the St. Raymond / St. Leo the Great Gospel Choir, Erica Falls, Gal Holiday presented by Young Audiences, Native Nations Intertribal, Young Magnolias, Golden Sioux and Young Cherokee Mardi Gras Indians, New Orleans Hispano America Dance Group, Kenneth Terry Brass Band, Scene Boosters and Old N Nu Fellaz Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs, Red Hawk and Golden Blade Mardi Gras Indians, Pastor Tyrone Jefferson, Donnie Bolden & the Spirit of Elijah, Original Big Seven and Original Four Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs, Lake Forest Charter Jazz Ensemble, New Orleans Indian Rhythm Section, Eulenspiegel Puppets, Pastor Terry Gullage & the Greater Mount Calvary Voices of Redemption Choir, Fannie C. Williams Charter Choir, KIDsmART Showcase feat. Arise Academy, Martin Behrman Charter School, Langston Hughes Academy, and McDonogh City Park Academy...


Eagles, My Morning Jacket, Ne-Yo, Irma Thomas, Herbie Hancock, Paulina Rubio, Allen Toussaint, The Levon Helm Band with special guest Mavis Staples, Better Than Ezra, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Steve Earle and the Dukes (and Duchesses), Aaron Neville's Gospel Experience, Big Sam's Funky Nation, Jon Cleary, Bombino of Niger, Anders Osborne, John Boutté, The Pedrito Martinez Group, Jeremy Davenport, John Mooney & Bluesiana, MyNameIsJohnMichael, Lost Bayou Ramblers, The Malone Brothers, Dwayne Dopsie & the Zydeco Hellraisers, New Birth Brass Band, Mariachi Jalisco, Leroy Jones & New Orleans' Finest, Red Stick Ramblers, Paul Sanchez & the Rolling Road Show, Mac Arnold & Plate Full o' Blues, Young Tuxedo Jazz Band, The Johnson Extension, Guitar Masters feat. Jimmy Robinson, John Rankin, Phil DeGruy, and Cranston Clements, Val & the Love Alive Fellowship Choir, Rumba Buena, Mas Mamones, Roland Guerin, New Leviathan Oriental Foxtrot Orchestra, Tyronne Foster & the Arc Singers, Pinstripe Brass Band, Black Feathers Mardi Gras Indians, Sam Doores & the Tumbleweeds, Patrice Fisher & Arpa & the Garifuna Connection, Jeffery Broussard & Creole Cowboys, Guitar Slim, Jr., Cha Wa, Tarriona "Tank" Ball & the BlackStar Bangas, Louisiana Repertory Jazz Ensemble, Belton Richard & the Musical Aces, New Orleans Spiritualettes, Tommy Sancton's New Orleans Legacy Band, Stephen Foster's Foster Family Program, Big Chief Trouble & Trouble Nation and Mohawk Hunters Mardi Gras Indians, Grupo Sensacion, Baby Boyz Brass Band, Riccardo Crespo & Sol Brasil, Kora Konnection feat. Morikeba Kouyate of Senegal & Thierno Dioubate of Guinea, Westbank Steppers, Valley of Silent Men, and Pigeon Town Steppers Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs, Curtis Pierre with Samba Kids, Xavier University Jazz Ensemble, Voices of Peter Claver, Cynthia Girtley, Wild Red Flame and Cherokee Hunters Mardi Gras Indians, Native Nations Intertribal, Matthew Davidson Band, Versailles Lion Dance Team, Kinfolk Brass Band, Young Guardians of the Flame, Double Dutch Jumpers, New Generation, Undefeated Divas, and Lady Jetsetters Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs, First Emanuel Baptist Church Mass Choir...


Foo Fighters, The Neville Brothers, Bonnie Raitt, Maze feat. Frankie Beverly, Galactic, Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, Preservation Hall 50th Anniversary Jam, David Sanborn and Joey DeFrancesco, funky Meters, Kermit Ruffins & the Barbecue Swingers, Asleep at the Wheel, Rebirth Brass Band, The Bounce Shake Down feat. Big Freedia, Katey Red, Keedy Black, and DJ Poppa, Rockin' Dopsie, Jr. & the Zydeco Twisters, Big Chief Bo Dollis & the Wild Magnolias, Los Hombres Calientes feat. Bill Summers and Irvin Mayfield, Charmaine Neville Band, Glen David Andrews, Supagroup, Boutté Family Sunday Praise feat. John, Lillian, Tricia, Lorna, Tanya, and Arséne, Ruby Wilson's Tribute to Bessie Smith & Ma Rainey, DJ Captain Charles, The Joe Krown Trio with Walter "Wolfman" Washington and Russell Batiste, Jr., Zion Harmonizers, Terrance Simien & the Zydeco Experience, Mem Shannon & the Membership, Creole String Beans, Bobby Lounge, Living Tribute to Harold Batiste feat. Jesse McBride, Ellis Marsalis, and Germaine Bazzle, ELS, TBC Brass Band, Higher Heights, Rocks of Harmony, Jo "Cool" Davis with special guest Sugarboy Crawford, George French & the New Orleans Storyville Jazz Band, Blodie's Jazz Jam, Gregg Stafford's Jazz Hounds, Keith Frank & the Soileau Zydeco Band, Rotary Downs, Jambalaya Cajun Band, The Stars of Heaven, Andrew Duhon, New Orleans Nightcrawlers, Wendell Brunious & the Music Masters, Pfister Sisters, Lynn Drury, Tanya & Dorise, AsheSon, Kim Che'ré, Caesar Elloie, Brother Dege, Gregory Agid, Curley Taylor & Zydeco Trouble, Orange Kellin & the New Orleans Deluxe Orchestra, Jockimo's Groove feat. War Chief Juan, Craig Adams & Higher Dimensions of Praise, High Steppers Brass Band, Lady Rollers, Original C.T.C. Steppers, and Nine Times Ladies Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs, Native Nations Intertribal, David & Roselyn, UNO Jazz Allstars, N'Kafu Traditional African Dance Company, New Orleans Young Traditional Brass Band with the Heel to Toe Steppers, Wild Tchoupitoulas and Wild Apaches Mardi Gras Indians, Ninevah Baptist Church Mass Choir, 14 and Under Cajun Band, NORD/Crescent City Lights Youth Theater, Buffalo Hunters and Apache Hunters Mardi Gras Indians, Hobgoblin Hill Puppets, Original Prince of Wales and Original Lady Buckjumpers Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs...

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Six Degrees of Coco Robicheaux

Here's the text of my story about Coco Robicheaux in the current OffBeat

Check out Andy J. Forest's video of the song he wrote for Kenny Holladay and Coco

Debbie Davis stood just inside the doorway of Three Muses, singing “When I’m 64.” It was Friday night on Frenchmen Street, the day after Thanksgiving, and she held the festive crowd’s attention. “I saw the ambulance go by but I didn’t think anything of it,” she says. “Someone came into the club and told me Coco Robicheaux had just been taken in an ambulance from the Apple Barrel. His heart had stopped, and they couldn’t revive him.”

Davis told her audience what had happened. A pall came over the room, a sense of sudden, irreversible loss that overwhelmed the normally carefree Frenchmen Street revelers.

Davis said she was surprised at how much the news upset her. “I wasn’t really close, but I got to know him after the flood,” she says. “Those of us who got back first got the gigs, and he was there right away.”

The final chapter in the legend of Coco Robicheaux is the impact his loss has had on the closely-knit downtown community. His garrulous spirit led him to converse with anyone he came into contact with. As a result he leaves a much deeper mark on New Orleans than the music he left behind might suggest.

“He was a social conduit,” says Davis. “Everyone you met knew Coco as well so you always had a starting point for a conversation. He was the Kevin Bacon of Frenchmen Street—Six Degrees of Coco Robicheaux.”

It seemed like almost every time I walked down Frenchmen Street, I saw Coco Robicheaux. He liked to sit on the bench in front of the Apple Barrel, smoking a cigar and talking to passersby, or inside the bar drinking tequila. He would converse with great detail on any subject that might come up, or start in on one of his own shaggy-dog-story life experiences. He presided over a number of eccentric and unique marriage ceremonies, and even performed some hands-on faith healing exercises that his patients swore by.

Photo by Do Verdier.
I guess I must have seen him play at 15 different bars around the Marigny-Bywater area. Like so many New Orleans musicians of legend, he spent a lot more of his creative energy on live performance than studio work. He wanted to see the looks on the faces of the audiences. The last time I spoke to him at length, he talked about how much he enjoyed playing for prison inmates and how he wrote a song called “Sittin’ On Death Row”. Though he worked the clubs, he was the apotheosis of the New Orleans street musician—a man with a guitar and a tale to tell. Like all good storytellers, he was not afraid of adding embellishments, exaggerations or alternative interpretations of the events he described, a habit that led some to question his veracity. But even those who were skeptical of Coco’s rambles through history liked him. His friendliness and loving, giving spirit was irresistible.

Such skepticism has led some to question details of his biography, but like any American legend, the spirit he leaves behind is more important than the details. American legends are frontier characters, explorers on an uncertain journey of discovery, and Coco had that restless mystery about him.

Born Curtis Arceneaux into a Cajun/Choctaw Indian family, he gave out a number of different accounts of his biography over the years, introducing a lot of different elements without truly contradicting himself. He moved around so much, in fact, he might well have been excused for offering some confusing scenarios. Though his family was from Ascension Parish, he says he was born outside of Merced, California while his parents were vacationing. He told of a childhood working in the cane fields with migrant workers from Haiti who taught him to make reed flutes. He spent time in France traveling with his father, who was in the Air Force. He assisted his great grandmother, a hoodoo woman, in her ceremonies, an influence that runs through his music. Cousins Van and Grace Broussard were in the music business, and Curtis followed suit, playing trombone and singing in soul bands. He was playing guitar on Bourbon Street in the early ‘60s and tells of recording an album’s worth of material at Cosimo Matassa’s studio that mysteriously disappeared. After wandering out west as a migrant worker, he landed in San Francisco in time for the Summer of Love, but by ’69 he left the West Coast under something of a cloud, claiming someone had committed “terrible crimes” using his name.

From that point on he identified himself as Coco Robicheaux, a childhood nickname taken from a Louisiana folk tale about naughty children. If you did something bad, a kid’s parents likened you to the wicked Coco Robicheaux, who fell victim to the wolf monster Loup Garou. His name is a legend of its own, then, the identity of everybody’s bad self. It’s unlikely that Dr. John was referencing Curtis Arceneaux when he called out “Coco Robicheaux” during “Walk On Gilded Splinters”, but it’s possible they could have crossed paths before Mac went into involuntary exile from New Orleans himself in the mid-1960s. Calling yourself “Coco Robicheaux” is hoisting a heavy load of karmic baggage any way you look at it, but by the time he returned to New Orleans once and for all in 1992 after another legendary stay in Key West, Coco had completed his transformation into a hoodoo spiritualist. The 1994 classic Spiritland featured dense swamp rundowns like the title track, “Walking With the Spirit” and “St. John’s Eve,” which incorporated field recordings from Do Verdier Bogue Falaye. Frenchmen Street denizens populated the album credits, which included Irene Sage, Lenny McDaniel, Allison Miner, Nancy Buchan, Smokey Greenwell, Hart McNee, Kenny Holladay, Tommy Malone, Sonny Schneidau and Coco’s perennial sidekick Michael Sklar.

A follow-up album, Louisiana Medicine Man, plowed much of the same musical turf with some of the same musicians. The title track got considerable airplay and appeared on the benefit album for the Musicians Clinic, Get You A Healin’. Louisiana Medicine Man got the award for Best Blues Album at the 1998 Best of the Beat Awards. Hoodoo Party (2002) further codified Coco’s swamp mystic identity with tracks such as “Burn My Bones,” “Li’l Black Hen,” “Thrift Store Suit” and the title track. In the last few years, Coco put out several albums with overlapping material. Yeah, U Rite! attempts to expand his style, most successfully with the witty “Ten Commandments of the Blues.” For some reason he decided to remix most of the tracks for another version of the same record, Like I Said, Yeah, U Rite, which dropped a couple of tracks and included what would become the title tune of his final album, the covers-heavy Revelator.

For those who didn’t know him, Coco will probably be best remembered for sacrificing a chicken while on air at WWOZ on the HBO series Treme, and for his astonishingly well-attended second line on December 12. What began as a small crowd assembled in front of the Apple Barrel swelled to a throng of thousands parading down Royal Street through the French Quarter, following a brass band led by James Andrews and Uncle Lionel Batiste. The crowd sang and chanted as they marched, shouting, “Coco. Coco. Coco.”

If you didn’t know Robicheaux, well, there’s no amount of storytelling that can make up the difference. Like New Orleans itself, if you haven’t been there, you’ll never really know what people are talking about.

Coco’s second line was sandwiched in between two musical tributes to Frenchmen Street heroes which featured many of the same musicians. On Sunday night there was a benefit for Kenny Holladay’s family at Check Point Charlie. Monday after the second line revelers gathered at House of Blues for a free concert. Before he played, John Mooney said, “He got both feet in Spiritland now!” Lynn Drury went to the House of Blues just to be there, “out of love for him,” she says. “He was beautiful. He touched a lot of people. When I was coming up he was always a fixture, hanging out in the street, talking in front of the Apple Barrel. He connected everybody. He had time for everybody. I wasn’t invited to play, but when I showed up backstage, they said ‘You’re on next!’ It was a beautiful surprise. I hope we don’t have to wait until someone else dies to feel that spirit again. I learned something from that. I’m going to try to live up to that from now on. I felt I was in touch with something bigger than all of us.”

Anders Osborne was at both tributes, playing with Billy Iuso and with Andy J. Forest, who’d written a new song for Kenny Holladay and Coco:

Sometimes I imagine them both walking down the street
Nowhere left to go, no one left to meet
Blues in other rooms filter down from other dreams
Their spirits are on every corner down here in New Orleans