A Multi-Sensory Tribute to the Incomparable Dr. John

A portrait from New Orleans

To honor Dr. John at his passing June 2019, we quickly dug up the recipe for one of his favorite stew, created a playlist of our favorite Dr. John recordings, had our own second line, and even developed a hack version of ‘Iko Iko’ to jam out to ourselves.

Below you will find everything you need to do the same at home.

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The Incomperable Dr. John

Dr. John will be missed, but your legacy lives on!  We (even our kiddos) saw him live multiple times in both New Orleans and New York City, and we will never tire of his music.

To honor him, we’re offering you a way to immerse yourself in his legacy using all of your senses, the same way we did, days after his passing in June 2019. 

Use this portrait to listen to recordings and watch live versions of him playing, cook and enjoy his favorite stew, try your hand at playing one of his iconic songs, and maybe even design a second line umbrella and have a little second line to complete the celebration of him.

If you’d like to read more about Dr. John, there’s lots of other places around the interwebs so I won’t repeat that here. As far as the obituaries go, personally, I agree with Swag over at Swagland (your everything you wanted to know – and more – about New Orleans Jazz Fest guide): the NY Times obit for Dr John was my favorite as well. 

homemade umbrellas for a second line tribute on the sidewalks of brooklyn.

In the spirit of tributes, I’ll share one of my own favorite memories about Dr John. One that shows how deep of an impression his music could leave, even on young years. It involves my son, who was at the ripe old age two and a half years old, in 2015.

It was just him and I one rainy weekday while his sister was in preschool. We had on Curious George, and he pointed out to ME, that the theme song sounded like Dr. John.

I had never noticed that.

I told him I agreed with him and then I looked it up, and holy cow, he was right!!!

Sure, we had recently seen Dr. John at Jazz Fest that year, and also the Central Park Summerstage that summer. But I never made the connection to the Curious George theme song. I had been schooled by my little one.

toddler on full piano

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Our Dr. John Favs

This playlist tries to capture our faves across his prolific recordings, starting with a bit of a dirge feel, meandering thru favs, and ending with “Will the Circle be Unbroken,” because I couldn’t find a version of him doing “I’ll Fly Away” on Spotify.

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Dr. John Live

A tribute of Dr. John needs also to celebrate his showmanship so you must take a spin through the Dr John YouTube channel and a general search of YouTube of his live shows. Here’s one gem: his full 2006 Newport Jazz Festival Show:

recipe

Dr John’s Raccoon Stew

I’d read about Dr. John’s affinity for raccoon meat, and thankfully WWOZ had published his recipe for Raccoon Stew. Mercifully, our local butcher who (supposedly) typically carries raccoon meat didn’t have it.  Knowing Sarah Lohman’s affinity for trying all sorts off food (and the fact that much of the content of her archived Four Pounds Flour blog was in the Brooklyn area), I consulted her site.  She had in fact roasted raccoon, in 2012 and offered resources for procuring “exotic game” such as raccoon, but unfortunately the suggestions were no longer valid in June 2019.

racoon stew to celebrate the life of dr john.

There was varying advice for substitutions across the internet, so we went to Staubitz and asked for help.  They recommended venison stew meat as an alternative.  Typically venison is easily overcooked, but knowing that it was going into a stew, she gave me frozen medallions of stew-meat venison ($19.99/lb if you were wondering).  I happened to leave it in the fridge overnight to cook the next morning, but it thawed in slightly warm water in a matter of 15-20 mins.

Raccoon was not the only hard-to-find items in this recipe!

  • “Veggie” – We used V8 Vegetable Juice and it was great.
  • Mirlitons – The unofficial squash of New Orleans, so I’m told.  We used skinned zucchini instead.
  • “Arizona-brand sweet peppers” – this one we unfortunately had to skip.  I did find an Arizona-brand pepper company online but the only product I could find was hot sauce. Not knowing if the intention was some acid from pickled peppers or sweetness in some roasted peppers, I at first left it off entirely, expecting to first taste the stew and determine what flavor was needed.  My super-taster daughter and I decided it needed acid so instead we just added twice the lemon juice and it was fab.  Next time maybe I’d do pickled sweet peppers.

I couldn’t find any guidance on what he would have eaten it with.  I figured rice was likely but we are on an Ale Bread kick from our local bakery so we went with that.  We also added some roasted okra because it’s a fam fav, it fit the New Orleans theme, and I wasn’t sure how keen the kiddos would be on the stew. 

We of course had to have some pralines using this tried and true simple recipe and sazerac cocktails to wash it down. 

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Second Line

This video gives you a flavor of the second-line in his honor, just 2 days after Dr. John’s passing on June 6, 2019. Below you’ll also find the instructions on how to maker your own second line umbrellas so that you can have your own second line tribute.

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Hack Jam: Iko Iko

I’d be remiss if I didn’t say you should also do your homework and listen to the original version of Iko Iko by the Dixie Cups, and maybe point you to this the history in case it comes up in the next trivia night you attend…. but yea Dr. John’s version is swingin’.

I wish I could say you could download our free cheat sheet for jammin’ to Iko Iko at home. We made and played a simplified version with our guests that night… but it was lost to a chai masala spill. Someday I’ll get back to writing it and testing it with my crew.

This free download (would have, and will someday) include(d):

  • Voice: just the lyrics
  • Piano: simple melody
  • Piano: simple chords
  • Bass: simple open string
  • Drums: simple beat

Bonus

Second Line Umbrellas

second line umbrella craft diy all the necessary bits

jacamo feenai nay…

For another New Orleans experiences, try our Virtual Trip To New Orleans Jazz Fest.