Show features ‘a secret New Orleans beat’

By Tom Weber

Musicians from New Orleans, whether their home base is rock, soul, blues or jazz, always seem to be completely in sync.

"That’s because they’ve got a secret beat, a secret New Orleans beat," said Aaron Neville, of New Orleans and the Neville Brothers. "It’s the second line drop beat, and it comes from the jazz bands and funeral parades."

Neville and his brothers have teamed up with a fellow New Orleans musician Dr. John for a tour that will bring them to Rochester for a concert Thursday at Mayo Civic Center.


"We’ve been doing this a few years, going out on tour together," Neville said from Houston, Texas. "It’s a cool show."

The musical association between Dr. John and the Nevilles goes back 35 years. It was the Neville brothers — minus Aaron and performing as the Meters — who backed Dr. John on his 1973 hit, "Right Place Wrong Time."

The Neville brothers have been performing in various groupings since the mid-1970s. Aaron had the biggest hit with "Tell it Like it Is" in 1966. But the brothers have continued to be mainstays on the New Orleans scene, taking part in any number of projects. They were the house band for Allen Toussaint’s Sansu Enterprises, were known as the Sounds, evolved into the Meters and have recorded for a variety of record labels. Their best album is generally agreed to be "Yellow Moon," produced by another New Orleans resident, Daniel Lanois.

The audience at Thursday’s concert will get a musical tour of this history.

"We’re going to do a mix of stuff from the Meters up to ‘Yellow Moon,’ and in between," Neville said. Included is Neville’s "Tell it Like it Is" and other solo material.

So far on the tour, the shows open with Dr. John doing his own set, followed by the Nevilles doing their own set. "Somewhere down the line we might jam," Neville said. After all, they share that secret New Orleans beat.

One trait New Orleans musicians don’t have in common is a love of winter. Neville was happy to hear that warmer weather had started to melt some of the snow in Minnesota. "That would be a good thing," he said.

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If you go

What: The Neville Brothers and Dr. John in concert

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday

Where: Mayo Civic Center, 30 Civic Center Drive S.E., Rochester

Tickets: $45 and $38.50, available at the civic center box office and through Ticketmaster at Macy’s, online at, and by phone at 252-1010.


Dr. John

Neville Brothers

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