Wednesday, October 8, 2003

All by Hisself: Live at the Lonestar

Posted By on Wed, Oct 8, 2003 at 12:00 AM

The left hand is thunder, thumping so hard there’s no need for a drummer. The right hand is lightning, tripping across the keys, spinning out golden triplets and silvery runs that can make a piano fan deliriously happy. And the voice is steeped in grits and gravy, as funky and down-home as you please.

They all belong to Mac Rebennack, aka Dr. John. All by Hisself, the first in a planned series of archival releases, is truth-in-packaging, taken from two 1986 performances in New York City. It’s just the man and a piano — anything else would have been superfluous.

The 17 songs here are a history lesson in New Orleans music. Chris Kenner (“Sick and Tired,” “Something You Got”), Earl King (“Let’s Make a Better World”) and Huey Smith (four songs in a medley) all get their due. Doc Pomus shows up, co-writing “Average Kind of Guy,” about a fellow who’s “low on luck and high on pills,” and complains “I love the girls that I can’t get.” Chestnuts “Stagger Lee,” “Junco Partner,” and “Iko Iko” are here too, as are the Doctor’s “Such a Night” and “Right Place, Wrong Time.”

His playing echoes every great Crescent City pianist. Professor Longhair, James Booker, Fats Domino — at one time or another Dr. John sounds like all of them. But he’s more than a mimic. As the liner notes remind us, “there ain’t a lyric on this album Mac ain’t been to.”

An extra treat is a 22-minute DVD, Mac Sings, Plays & Talks About New Orleans Music … . It’s more truth-in-packaging, as he does just that, interrupted every so often by a vaguely irritating, dorky reporter. But that’s redundant.

Vic Doucette is the copy editor at Metro Times. E-mail him at


We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.

Read the Digital Print Issue

March 3, 2021

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit

© 2021 Detroit Metro Times - Contact Us

Website powered by Foundation