Honky Tonkin’ At The Mondavi

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By Alan Gray and Sally Gray, NewsBlaze

What a deal!

Friday evening at the Mondavi brought together Allen Toussaint and Marcia Ball in one event, part of the Mondavi Heritage Series. And what an event it was, Toussaint and Ball.

Something strange happened, though, and it wasn’t a full moon.

Toussaint, the New Orleans musical legend, bandleader, arranger and session musician was vibrant, hot, fun and had the audience jumping, right from the start.

He said “I’ll play some songs I wrote, some songs I didn’t write, some I wish I wrote, but didn’t – and throw in a few I’m glad I didn’t write.”

He was working in New Orleans until a certain booking agent came along and told him to get out of town. Katrina actually did him a favor and put him out on the stage in Davis, and for that, we’re really glad.

In between the music and songs, we heard stories of how he and his city family, parents, brothers and sisters would go out to the country to stay with their creole country aunts and cousins. Great stories, Southern Nights.

Many of his songs have been covered by other people and we were surprised by a few of the songs he wrote that we attributed to others, including “Mother-in-Law” and “Working in the Coal Mine.”

A big surprise was him walking through the crowd handing out gifts from a beautiful coloured shopping bag, definitely not what anyone expected.

In the intermission, the grand piano was taken off the stage and Marica Ball’s band came in. This is where the first strange thing happened. A few people never came back to their seats! Perhaps they were afraid their coach would turn into a pumpkin or perhaps they only came for Toussaint. Whatever it was, they really missed what was to come.

Over three decades, Marcia Ball has been pumping out her “signature brand of Texas blues, Louisiana R&B and Gulf Coast swamp pop,” according to the Mondavi program.

And we weren’t disappointed. The Grammy-nominated Blues Music Award winner had the audience hopping and clapping.

Songs included

Watermelon Time – changed from “Sugar Boogie”

Barbecue

Crawfishin’

Miracle of Knoxville – she calls it “The Weird One”

Where do you go when you can’t go home – a falling out of love song that started as a Katrina song

We were clapping and singing, a great party band.

Then came somthing strange and a wonderful surprise. We were stunned that a few people left, so they could get to their cars first, but they missed a great collaboration – are these people crazy? Those of us who never give up hoping for an encore weren’t disappointed, as Allen Toussaint’s grand piano rolled back on the stage and we got a third show – Allen Toussaint and Marcia Ball together.

It was a great night. Thank you Allen Toussaint and Marcia Ball, we really appreciate you bringing your life’s work to us. And thanks again to the Mondavi.

Alan Gray is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of NewsBlaze Daily News and other online newspapers. He prefers to edit, rather than write, but sometimes an issue rears it’s head and makes him start pounding the keyboard. Alan has a fascination with making video and video editing, so watch out if he points his Canon 7d in your direction.