Chances are you know Dr. John’s music without realizing it: His sly, croaky singing, from the ubiquitous 1973 hit “Right Place Wrong Time” to the jingle for Popeye’s Chicken & Biscuits, is unmistakable. But those high-profile gigs only hint at the rich brew of music he’s been involved in. The man once billed as “The Night Tripper” is a boogie-woogie piano player who also loves early rock ’n’ roll and the slithery funk of the Mississippi Delta—and who has a strange obsession with its voodoo culture, incorporating its rhythms and religious rites into his performances. (His stage name was inspired by a notorious 19th-century voodoo priest.) If that mix seems to make him an anachronism, he’s kept it sounding fresh for 40 years—space-rock band Spiritualized tapped him for a cameo on their anthem “Cop Shoot Cop,” and he’s been called on often to advocate for post-Katrina New Orleans, most recently on his new album, City That Care Forgot. Tonight’s shows are the first of a four-night run.
DR. JOHN PERFORMS WITH THE LOWER 911 AT 8 P.M. AND 10 P.M. AT BLUES ALLEY, 1073 WISCONSIN AVE. NW. $50. (202) 337-4141.