Monday, January 10, 2011

Papa Mali aka Malcolm Welbourne at the Ogden Museum 11/4/10

by Patty McGehee on Saturday, November 6, 2010
We slipped off this afternoon headed to NOLA at 3:45 p.m. The air was clear and a cold breeze blew me around while driving  on the Elevated highway above Manchac. The sun was shining extra bright after three days of storms nearly washed us away. We got in to the NOLA CBD at about 4:45. We parked and walked three blocks to get to the Ogden. It is a lovely museum. I marveled that it was across Camp street exactly where my father's automotive repair shop was in the 1960's. The building shop was in is still there and the lot where the wrecked cars used to be stored is now a parking lot. I don't remember the Ogden building looking like it does now at all. In fact, I found it impossible to remember what it looked like way back then. I had to give myself a break...1969 is a long time ago!

We waited about 20 minutes to go in. We were able to get a front row seat. Papa Mali started playing and the first song was uneventful. The second song, "The girls from Bossier City.." Well, that was spectacular! we spent an hour and 45 listening to the wonderful songs.

During a break during and question and answer session, I was able to ask Malcolm about the song he wrote named "Sugarland." I asked him what inspired him to write that song and just "how were you able to channel that "Mardi Gras Indian stuff" into that?"  He gave me a sweet smile and said that he wrote it because, " I  did a lot of driving in Texas on the highway  where Sugarland Texas is, and you know, that is one of the places where  Leadbelly was incarcerated, and I wrote it trying to  show the despair these people had to endure there. It is very ominous, not  a nice place. I started working on it in the studio and when Chief Monk Boudreaux and the Indians got involved singing the chants, the song took on a life of its' own."

I was so excited to ask him that. Then there were mentions of some of the people he had played with and how he had worked his way into working with his heroes and mentors, including George Porter Jr. and Bill Krautmann from The Grateful Dead.  He discussed his new CD that was released  just yesterday with his new band 7 Walkers.

He finished  up the concert with two  of our favorite songs, ending with a Dixieland standard, "Lay me down a Pallette," and one of my favorite songs written by  Professor Longhair. Lots of people mobbed him after the concert. We held back and just watched everything from afar. (One of the things he has done in the past was wow me with a whole Dixieland set at Chickie Wah Wah one night about  two years ago!)

I went outside to talk to the drummer, Robb Kidd. We had a nice visit talking about the drums and the songs we really liked. I told Robb, I had wondered if he could really pull off the drum licks on "Early in the Morning" live! I told him, "You did it! I told Dan yesterday I was not sure if a drummer could really play like that, that the studio mixer must have  sped  up the drum licks." We  had small talk about his kit and how he uses a Tom Tom on its side instead of a  bass drum and has it miked up very loud. I complimented him for playing with, what I call, "finesse." Just perfect nuance to his work. He is an amazing drummer, not at all just about being loud, but about being sophisticated. I got a kick how he had laid a tambourine on top of a cymbal
stack and it tapped it with his foot  making it shake just a tad, kind of the way Monk does it by hand!

Malcolm finished up selling and autographing  posters and came out. I got to speak to him again about  "Sugarland." He said that the song seemed to have a life of its own and he meant it to be very ominous. Dan asked him a hundred questions and he was good  about answering them. It was a pleasure to talk to him. We had to finally bow out and give him space. We thanked him and left all excited about what we had experienced.  What a night! Papa Mali shook my hand and  we said goodnight.

Papa Mali at the Ogden taken by Patty Mcgehee
Patty McGehee and drummer Robb Kidd

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