Dr John. Clapham Common Bandstand. 1984
Free gig on Clapham Common. The stage was the Victorian bandstand. The GLC was still in existence then so I imagine they paid for it, probably in the belief that allowing free access to Culture of all kinds would improve people’s lives. How quaint. Good thing the Tories stamped that sort of nonsense out. That evening I was due to fly to Mykonos with brother Ewan, having spent the summer vacation working for SunMed, who specialised in Greek holidays, and earned a free holiday for two. So, in quite a good mood all told.
The support acts, Diz & the Doormen and Balham Alligators, were pub-rockers always appearing in London at venues like the Half Moon, Putney. Some of them probably still are. Gigs were long affairs back then, especially when you got there early to see support acts. Don’t bother nowadays.
About 5 O’clock the band started and there was Dr John with his feathers, bag of ju-ju (huh?) and big cane walking up to the bandstand. I knew he was a cult figure from the Sixties, creating the persona of The Night Tripper and had appeared in the film, “The Last Waltz”. And that was it really. It was all ‘Nawlins funky stew and sugar-po-nah-nah. Bit too smooth in parts. He did some beautiful solo piano which I recognized from an LP I’d bought. Boogie-woogie and some slower blues. Amazing sound. It was “muso” but good! We were near the front but couldn’t quite see his fingers on the keys. Shame.
Before catching the plane we had time to have some food with my old skool mate, Bill, who lived around the corner. Nice one.