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Tipitina

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Biography of Tipitina

It doesn’t often happen, and that’s putting it mildly. When was the last time a bundle of youthful energy, polished musicianship and originality like Tipitina landed on the mat unannounced? It’s quite disconcerting. ‘Where did this suddenly come from?’ you ask. The prosaic reply is Preston, Lancs, but the real answer is New Orleans and a few other hot spots along the way; from juke joints and dance halls, warm nights and windy streets, good times remembered and a few bad moments best forgotten. In short, to borrow Hoagy Carmichael’s handy list of life-enhancing ingredients, it comes from ‘swing, boogie-woogie and jive’ - not forgetting the blues and even gospel music. Tipitina is (or are) Justin Randall, Debbie Jones and Gary Barber, joined on certain occasions by Andy Jones, John Battrum and Tom Hill. If you know anything at all about New Orleans music and its great practitioners you know that Tipitina is the title of a piece by the late Professor Longhair, and it is from the Prof and his students - Fats Domino, Allen Toussaint, Dr John et al - that they draw much of their inspiration. With a background as broad as that, a band can range happily through vast tracts of musical landscape. For instance, we find Dream A Little Dream Of Me, a winsome little pop song from 1931, by Gus Kahn, Fabian André and Wilbur Schwandt, side by side with Hit That Jive Jack, an early hit for the King Cole Trio; and Fats Waller’s immortal Ain’t Misbehavin’ (1929) rubbing shoulders with I Wish I Was In New Orleans by Tom Waits, from his 1976 album ‘Small Change’. Originality manifests itself in many ways, one being the ability to bring seemingly incompatible elements together and make something new and unique out of them - in this case Tipitina’s beguiling and distinctive style. It seems to me that New Orleans music is like an underground stream. The everyday world of pop music, jazz and blues carries on oblivious to its presence until, every once in a while, it rises to the surface and insists on being heard. It happened with trad jazz and Fats Domino’s New Orleans rock in the fifties, with Dr John and his voodoo brew in the ‘60s, with the Neville Brothers and the Meters in the ‘70s and ‘80s - and don’t forget Jools Holland on our own doorstep right now. It’s never a good idea to make predictions, especially in print, but I’d say Tipitina could be next.

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