Music News

Voodoo Organist

The late Screamin' Jay Hawkins once declared, "I'd rather sing opera than be a black Vincent Price." And though he's better remembered as a novelty performer who rose from a coffin, foisting a skull on the end of a stick, Hawkins possessed an astounding vocal range that would have made Puccini proud. For Scott Wexton, a bellowing one-man lounge act who bills himself as the Voodoo Organist, Hawkins ranks right up there with Tom Waits and Nick Cave as inspiration for his swampy, cabaret-influenced sound. Sitting behind a portable organ from the '70s (it houses a rotary speaker with a revolving horn for vibrato-enhanced overload), the Detroit native sounds more like Jim Morrison churning his way through tent-revival numbers, jazzy blues, cha-cha and the occasional gothic waltz -- while manning maracas and a theremin. From a digital workstation, Wexton also weaves together textured samples of brass, xylophones and steel drums, to dizzying effect. Touring in support of his second full-length, The Return of the Voodoo Organist, Mr. Mambo joins Little Fyodor and Babushka, along with Patrick Porter & the Bailey Teeth, for a cockeyed evening of zombie-inducing fun. Check your chicken feet at the door.
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John La Briola