review and photos by Cecily Sweet
On Saturday, blues fans in Lincoln tried to contain their excitement. Unfortunately, these giddy fans received unfavorable news just minutes before the Dr. John concert at the Bourbon Theatre. Dr. John would be unable to perform that night due to health conditions. The vibe among some Dr. John fans was heavy: somberness caused by the missed opportunity to see the artist perform.
While trying to drown our sorrows with each other at some of Lincoln’s finest establishments, word suddenly spread that Dr. John had sat down at the piano at the Bourbon and started playing. Mid-sip, we left our drinks, our tabs and our blues behind as we ran out the door. Together, fans ran — yes, ran — to witness Dr. John’s (possibly) final performance in Lincoln.
Albeit short in length, Dr. John and the Blind Boys of Alabama performed a jaw-dropping show, a remarkable 30-minute set. Left and right, up and down, fans of all ages were getting caught by the groove. We had our party pants and our boogie boots on, and we were letting loose, together.
Dr. John could have fooled anyone that he was in perfect condition when he played. He delivered what we had wanted from him just hours after nearly canceling the show. If that isn’t a clear display of dedication to and love of the music and the fans, I don’t know what is. Dr. John performed "Revolution" flawlessly and showed Lincolnites that he’s still got it.
A favorite of the night was when Jimmy Carter of the Blind Boys of Alabama was guided around the entire venue, weaving through the crowd, telling everyone to get up, dance and feel the beat. In that moment, I felt lucky to be experiencing the feeling of true, genuine music with my community. After the rollercoaster of emotions we had dealt with throughout the night, we needed to let go and let the music take us away.
And that is exactly what Dr. John and the Blind Boys of Alabama did. They took us away on an unforgettable journey into the world of blues, funk and soul power. For a short time, we embraced the tunes, forgot our suffering, and appreciated the inspirational Blind Boys of Alabama and the nothing-less-than-remarkable legend, Dr. John.
Cecily Sweet is a Hear Nebraska contributor. She reminds readers, "Do your thing, what you are, and nothing will ever bother you," just as Emmett Grogan said.