Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's Bête Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Washington is front and center; I'm pretty sure that that's Mr. Dog left front.
This picture must be several years old.

* * *

Friday night while walking on Decatur Street in the French Quarter of New Orleans, I looked in a small club and saw the incredible drummer I had seen two nights before playing with Walter Washington, whom I mentioned in Friday’s post. This time he was sitting in with two strictly competent blues-rock bar-banders, again playing for no cover, to a smaller audience. At the set break I went and introduced myself, declared my admiration for his drumming, and learned his name: Junkyard Dog, or JYD.

Via Google, I learn that Washington and Junkyard Dog have been playing together since at least 1988, and that Washington is 63 years old. In August 1990 Peter Watrous wrote up Washington and JYD -- real name Wilbert Arnold -- in the New York Times and aptly said of Mr. Dog,
Helping the festivities was Mr. Washington's drummer, Wilbert (Junkyard Dog) Arnold, an extraordinary musician who cruised along with the effortless improvisation that seems found most often in Southern musicians. Mr. Arnold, who has been a regular member of Mr. Washington's band, keeps a constant monologue going with his drums, improvising within the form of a tune, embroidering and accenting the music and stimulating the dancers.

And just a month ago, Dan Phillips of Home of the Groove called Junkyard Dog “one of New Orleans’ best drummers.”

Playing for tips with a pick-up band. He was friendly, though I had trouble understanding him, due to his missing teeth, rapid speech, and New Orleans accent. He spoke about having to give up the pimping business when he got married.

* * *

Got back home this morning. Great to be back. Massive windstorm Thursday night knocked a huge percentage of the region out of power, though not our house. Four people died, three from falling trees, one by drowning when a flash flood trapped her in her basement. Supposed to get down to 29 degrees F tonight. Good luck to everybody struggling to stay warm.

More on New Orleans later.
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