In Pick Five, great artists pick five cover songs that matter to them.
Six years ago on a visit to New Orleans, I traveled to the legendary Tipitina’s club for a Professor Longhair tribute show. I know most of the headliners, at least loosely: Dr. John of course, plus Meters bassist George Porter Jr. and Marsalis clan patriarch Ellis. The one guy I’d never heard of, though, blew me away. His name was Jon Cleary, and I appeared to be the only person in the room ignorant of his work.
Cleary is a New Orleans icon, a boogie-woogie piano savant following in the Dr. John and Allen Toussaint tradition (he’s played with both). NPR has called him “pure New Orleans,” while Southern Living wrote that “the pianist’s name is synonymous with his city.” He’s got a new album Dyna-Mite out this week, Crescent City funk at its finest. Here’s the title track:
To celebrate the new album, Jon Cleary told us about his five favorite cover songs. His selections travel the world, but keep coming back to New Orleans. Just like Cleary himself.