Quintet to perform at L’Auberge Casino & Hotel
Aaron Neville plans to be warm and cozy at home this Christmas, even though he’s doing, as usual, his annual holiday-season tour.
The Aaron Neville Quintet, featuring the New Orleans singing star’s mellow saxophone-playing brother, Charles, is making just four stops this year. Following shows in Austin, Lafayette and this Friday and Saturday at L’Auberge Casino in Baton Rouge, the tour wraps up Sunday at the Civic Theatre in New Orleans.
“I don’t like to be out as long as before,” Aaron Neville said from New York City, his home for the past five years. “I want to be home for Christmas, and I don’t want to be just getting home Christmas Eve.”
Neville and his wife, photographer Sarah A. Friedman, celebrated their third wedding anniversary in November. They live in Greenwich Village.
“You can run into anybody up here,” he said. “I live around the corner from Alec Baldwin. Every once in a while I run into Wynton Marsalis.”
Neville sometimes gets together with his friend, singer-songwriter Paul Simon. Simon made a guest appearance for Neville’s TV special and DVD, “My True Story,” a concert filmed at Brooklyn Bowl.
Simon and Neville, both 72, share a decades-long connection to “We Belong Together,” the song they performed for the special.
Neville previously recorded “We Belong Together” with his older brother, Art, for his mini-doo-wop album from 1986, “Orchid in the Storm.” “We Belong Together” also happens to be the first song that Simon and his longtime singing partner, Art Garfunkel, sang as a duo.
Blending voices with Simon for “We Belong Together,” originally a hit for Robert & Johnny in 1958, was a piece of cake, Neville said.
Throughout this year, Neville’s been singing songs from his dream project, a full-length album of doo-wop era classics that’s also called “My True Story.” Co-produced by Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, the album includes renditions of songs by the Jive Five, Hank Ballard and the Midnighters, Dion, Little Anthony and the Imperials and the Drifters.
Neville reunited with Richards when he joined the Rolling Stones in June on stage in Philadelphia. They performed the Drifters’ “Under the Boardwalk” for an audience of 20,000.
“It was cool singing with Mick (Jagger) and watching Keith smiling back there playing the guitar,” he said.
Doo-wop has been at the top of Neville’s hit parade since he was kid in the Calliope housing projects.
“My brother, Art, he had a doo-wop group, him and a guy named Izzycoo Gordon,” the singer recalled. “They used to sit down on the park bench at night and harmonize. And they’d go around and win all the talent shows.
“I’d come up to sing with them. They ran me away until they figured I could hold a note. Then they’d let me sing with them. And Art worked at a record shop called Tickles Record Shop. He used to bring home all the stuff by Clyde McPhatter, Sonny Til and the Orioles. The Clovers, that was his favorite group.
“And he brought home the risqué records they wouldn’t play on the radio, like ‘Work with Me, Annie,’ by Hank Ballard and the Midnighters, and ‘Annie Had a Baby’ and ‘Sexy Ways.’”
Neville has doo-wop in his soul. There’s at least a little drop of doo-wop in everything he does.
“From ‘Tell It Like It Is’ on,” he said. “Even the country song I did, ‘The Grand Tour,’ I ended that with a doo-wop lick. Ooh-ooh, ooh, ooh-ooh, ooh. I ended ‘Mona Lisa’ like that with the Neville Brothers on the ‘Fiyo on the Bayou’ album. And I did ‘The Ten Commandments of Love.’ The song I did with Linda Ronstadt, ‘Don’t Know Much,’ the little ending on that is a doo-wop lick. I even have a doo-wop version of ‘The Mickey Mouse March,’ with Dr. John playing keyboards.”
Doo-wop music, Neville said of his devotion to the style, “came out in the time when I was growing and trying to figure out who I was. It captured my heart and my soul. And then it rode on my bones, all the way up to now.”