I’ve got a few more notes from my New Orleans trip that I’ll get out of the way in the next couple of days. Here’s one.
On our bus tour of the Lower 9th Ward on June 21, we passed by Fats Domino’s house. Yes, the famous house from whose roof Fats was rescued after Katrina. He lives at Caffin and Marais streets, in a low-slung house right there on the corner. No gate, no nothin’.
Next door is the modest office for his music publishing company, which I recognized from a photo included in Fats’ latest CD (more on that below). I had no idea it was next door to his residence.
Let me say, I am a Fats Domino fan. I own the four-disc boxed set and the later replacement 4-CD boxed set, two greatest hits CDs, a CD of his early R&B material, an import LP of same and the ’70s Legendary Masters double-LP. I’ve debated buying the 8-disc Bear Family boxed set of all his Imperial Records tracks.
Fats, needless to say, is fabulous is my book. I’ll even recommend his most recent CD, “Alive and Kickin’.” It took me months to find a copy because it’s on some dinky label and received poor distribution. It has one of the most hideous covers you’ll ever see, one that appears to have been put together by a friend whose qualification is that he has Photoshop. The music, I was surprised to learn, was recorded in 2000 but unreleased until now because no labels were interested.
And yet the music is quite good — not as prime as the ’50s material, of course, but much better than we had any right to expect. The songs are catchy and the minimalist piano playing very compelling. One of the songs has a three-note (I think) repeating pattern that is simplicity itself, and for days afterward the figure was on repeat in my brain.
You’d think, after Katrina, some record label would mount a Fats Domino reclamation project and put the man in a studio, or even give “Alive and Kickin'” a push. If they’ll do it for Jerry Lee Lewis, they could do it for Fats.
Anyway: I found my thrill, not on Blueberry Hill, but in a glimpse of the great one’s home. If he was home, I hope he was taking a nap, sitting at the piano, cooking or doing something else he loves.