Secretly, I’ve always believed that Allen Toussaint keeps back-up supplies of mystical pixie dust in his suit pockets, reaching in when nobody’s looking to sprinkle it by the soft, cuff link-adorned handful on the world around him. That’s ridiculous, obviously. But he is the kind of person who strikes those he meets with an energy that feels as if it’s come from another time, if not another plane of existence.
Turns out Bonnie Raitt, who I spoke to for a Q&A a few weeks before she played the Saenger in New Orleans in December, kind of agrees.
“What I learned from Allen is that you don’t have to be out of your mind to be incredibly funky and sensual,” she told me. “The elegance and dignity of his musical choices was such a revelation to me. It may have had an impact on me that I didn’t have to live the life of a wild-ass blues mama just to be funky. I took a look at Allen and just knowing what music came out of him was a great lesson in being a classier woman.
“He modeled something that was so profound at my young age; it made me just wanna sit up straight and cross my legs and put my hands in my lap and have a conversation and be a grown-up — in a good way.”
We also talked about her new record, “Slipstream,” her work with Joe Henry and what it’s like to be back on the road after a much-needed break. Check out the full Q&A over on OffBeat.com.