It was billed as the Allen Toussaint/Fats Domino Tribute with David Torkanowsky & Friends, and though Torkanowsky didn’t make it because of a scheduling conflict, it didn’t matter to me.

This was still an entertaining Jazz Fest-like show at the Dew Drop Jazz and Social Hall on Saturday night in Mandeville, La., which is on the Northshore of New Orleans.

I attended the show with my Northshore daughter hours after she took her mother to see “Rent” in a Saturday matinee at the Saenger Theatre in New Orleans.

The tribute band members were George French, bass and vocals; Gerald French, drums and vocals; Roderick Paulin, saxophone; Richard Knox, piano; and Wendell Brunious, trumpet and vocals.

The New Orleans jazz musicians played the expected such as “Blueberry Hill,” “Blue Monday,”  “Let the Four Winds Blow,” “Lipstick Traces” and “A Certain Girl” and the unexpected such as “Java.” The songs are from the deep catalogs of Domino and Toussaint, two of the city’s greatest musicians.

I think the last time I heard “Java” was more than 50 years ago on my parents’ record player. Toussaint wrote the song and recorded it in 1958 and it became a hit for New Orleans trumpeter Al Hirt in 1964.

The Dew Drop show went beyond Toussaint and Fats with some Louis Armstrong, and near the end, a rousing version of “Twist and Shout” that got the crowd dancing their hearts out and trying their best to sing as loud as John, Paul, George and Ringo back in 1964.

Baby, the old and young were shaking it.

The show was kind of a prelude to Jazz Fest, which runs April 27-29 and May 3-6 at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans and will have its own tribute to Domino.

I have memories of seeing Al Hirt and Allen Toussaint in person on separate occasions and neither of the memories involves Jazz Fest.

I never saw Al Hirt perform, but many years ago, I saw him sitting at a table with a group of people at Cafe du Monde in the French Quarter.

I took this for granted.

I still hear my sarcastic voice saying, “Oh, boy. It’s Al Hirt.”

Months before Hurricane Katrina, I saw Toussaint play inside a French Quarter record store on the Monday after Jazz Fest.

The people who jammed the store to see the free performance got in my way and kept me from browsing through the record bins.

I left after two minutes with my sarcastic voice saying, “The tourists love their Toussaint.”

On Saturday, I left my sarcastic voice at home so I could appreciate the moment.

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John E. Bialas
John, 67, is retired from the Pulitzer Prize-winning Sun Herald newspaper in Gulfport, Miss., after a 45-year career there in which he was a sportswriter, weekend sports editor, book reviewer, rock music critic, copy editor, blogger, Facebook administrator and award-winning headline writer and page designer. He lives in Gulfport with his wife, Patricia, and writes the blog Pictures of Tilly which you can find at http://picturesoftilly.net/.