This week on The Fish Fry, a playlist full of funk and soul gems, including songs from three of New Orleans' great mid-century offspring, Lee Dorsey, Robert Parker and Snooks Eaglin.
The three New Orleans natives made names for themselves with their very different talents in the '50s, '60s & '70s. Robert Parker and Snooks Eaglin mainly mingled in the local music scene. Parker got his start as a saxophonist, playing as a teenager on Professor's Longhair's "Mardi Gras in New Orleans," most notably. He became well known for live performances in his own community, and played on recordings with the likes of Fats Dominoe, Irma Thomas, and Huey "Piano" Smith. He had only one big hit, "Barefootin'," in 1965, but continued to play for many years after.
Snooks Eaglin, who lost his eyesight during childhood, also began his career early in his life. He dropped out of school as a teenager to play with The Flamingoes, a band organized by the great Allen Toussaint. He had an incredible talent for picking up songs, and had a huge repertoire. He was much beloved at music festivals in New Orleans, and is also notable for the contribution he made to folk music after Harry Oster, a university folklorist, heard Eaglin playing in the streets and recorded him in the 1959. The subsequent album, New Orleans Street Singer, was released to the great excitement of the folk music world.
Finally Lee Dorsey, also born in New Orleans, moved to Portland and, after a stint with the army, found his place as a singer on the pop/R&B scene of 1960s. He also had his first hit, "Ya Ya," under the oversight of Allen Toussaint early in the decade, then produced four more chart-toppers with Toussaint between 1965 and 1967. He went on to sing with Southside Johnny and the Asbury Dukes.