FRIDAY LUNCH SPECIAL
Bayou Maharajah; The Tragic Genius of James Booker, Directed by Lily Keber
On The Board - Bayou Maharajah explores the life and music of New Orleans piano legend James Booker, the man Dr. John described as “the best black, gay, one-eyed junkie piano genius New Orleans has ever produced.”
May We Suggest - Early in my tenure at the Independent Weekly, Editor Richard Hart introduced me to the stunning brilliance of James Booker. It was around this time of year, Mardi Gras, that Hart, a New Orleans native, could hardly contain his excitement as he began to tell me about Booker’s unbelievable story and talent. He gave me a copy of “GONZO: All the 45’s” and was hooked. I mentioned learning about Booker to my friend, and another brilliant pianist, Phil Cook (@phillygardner) and his excitement was even more amplified, his arms flapped. We had to sit down. “Oh man. Have you seen him play?” We pulled up You Tube and watched a live performance of “True” at Montreux. Wow. I was laid out flat. Who the hell was this guy?
Over the course of this wholly engrossing 90 min. documentary, filled with lush archival footage of Crescent City street scenes, Lily Keber deftly crafts a grand lyrical space for Booker to reveal himself in full. Only the very best parts of illuminating interviews with a wonderful cast of musicians that shared space with him are used. Concert footage and recordings are allowed to play in their entirety. In this way, Keber offers a remarkable contribution to the documentary music profile form and, more importantly, finally gives this legendary “Black Liberachi” his due. - D.L. Anderson
Ready to Order? - This weekend, as a part of the not-to-be-missed Mardis Gras celebration Hey Pocky Way in Durham, N.C., there will be a special screening of Bayou Maharajah at the Pinkhook at noon on Sunday, March 2nd. Order Your Tickets or show up with $5 and be prepared to be amazed and possible cry in your beer.
The Friday Lunch Special is an endorsement of the films and filmmakers we are inspired by, shared by a Vittles producer.