Coco Robicheaux Spiritland Band Tribute to play at 2013 Blues in da Parish Festival.
Coco Robicheaux. the unofficial mayor of Frenchmen Street, was a unique, completely self-defined character and musician, a man who believed his music intermingled the spiritual and physical worlds.
Nearly 2 years after his death, several of Robicheaux's friends and former bandmembers have come together to stage a fitting tribute to him. At the Blues Tent during the 2013 Jazzfest, veteran rock and soul singer Irene Sage -- "Queen Irene," in Robicheaux's lexicon -- led an ensemble that included guitarst Michael Sklar and pedal steel "wizard" Dave Easley.
According to a nola.com review by Keith Spera:
"With members of his family looking on, they resurrected several of his compositions and favorite songs at the Blues Tent. "Walking With The Spirit" cast Sage's big voice, equal parts grit and heart, in a flattering light, especially when it stood alongside two other female voices — including that of Robicheaux's widow, Danielle Laramie Arceneaux.
Walter "Wolfman" Washington. Washington and Sage then teamed up for "We've Got a Secret," a song Sage originally wrote years ago for her defunct Irene & the Mikes, but that Robicheaux adopted as his own. Sage and Washington made for a potent duo as they traded lines and harmonized; Washington also scratched out one of his typically taut solos.
Dorian Rush stepped up to belt Bob Dylan's "I Shall Be Released," which Robicheaux often performed. She first asked how many Dylan fans were in the audience. "This is for the 25 of you," she said. The moan of Easley's pedal steel guitar shared space with Mike Hood's church organ.
Hood croaked Robicheaux's "Work of the Devil," his after-midnight growl reminiscent of Robicheaux crossed with a dash of Dr. John. "It's too early to hear that voice," he said, somewhat sheepishly, when he was done.
The Robicheaux lexicon was laden with references to dark nights of the soul and interplay with the hereafter. "Spoonful," the Willie Dixon ode to the cost of primal cravings originally brought to life by Howlin' Wolf, fits in well with Robicheaux's catalog -- his voice is not unlike Wolf's. It fell to Sklar to handle "Spoonful" at the Blues Tent. He rode shotgun over a galloping rhythm; Washington, Easley and Hood all climbed aboard with their respective instruments.
At the end, the entire ensemble took up hand-held shakers and coalesced at the front of the stage. "Gonna walk, gonna talk in the spirit," they chanted, conjuring a spirit that Robicheaux would surely appreciate."