The Blind Boys of Alabama: “Live in New Orleans”

They’ve never had a hit or sold a ton of records, but the Blind Boys of Alabama have been making beautiful music for 70 years and running, so in lieu of the sold-out week at Madison Square Garden they deserve, this DVD – filmed during an appearance at the legendary New Orleans institution Tipitina’s last spring – serves as a suitable tip of the hat to one of modern music’s most distinguished careers. Fittingly, the Blind Boys were on the road promoting a CD, Down in New Orleans, that paid tribute to the city, and the show’s location also enabled them to enlist a passel of the Crescent City’s musical finest, including Susan Tedeschi, Dr. John, and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. The production values aren’t the best you’ve ever seen, the sound mix occasionally wavers into muddy territory – and if you’ve ever been to Tipitina’s, you know that fitting all those performers on the club’s tiny stage requires some delicate balancing – but what Live in New Orleans lacks in polish, it more than makes up for with the performers’ obvious, bone-deep commitment to the music. There’s little showmanship here, just the performers’ decades of experience, but that’s more than enough for a damn fine show. Live showcases the Blind Boys doing what they do best, and functions as a nicely priced introduction for new converts, who will also enjoy the brief BET-branded documentary bonus feature. (Saguaro Road 2009)

Blind Boys of Alabama MySpace page


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