Remembering Allen Toussaint

I am not sure that many Americans know the name Allen Toussaint. I surely did not until I was well into my twenties. Like so many really important things, Mr. Toussaint was not a part of the standard core curriculum. I think Allen Toussaint should be on a stamp! He was an incredible musician and force in 20th Century American music. Period. But unfortunately, Mr. Allen Toussaint has left the building and passed away November 10, 2015.

Allen Toussaint
January 14, 1938 – November 10, 2015

You can read about this amazing guy here

Harry Shearer’s radio show, Le Show, this week plays an interview with Allen Toussaint from a few years back. It is about ten minutes in, just past the “apologies of the the week.”


I am not qualified to write about this man. I heard Allen Toussaint play live just one time. It was at the San Francisco Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival in about 2012. It was at the Star Stage and I was simply amazed that there were not more people in attendance. Allen Toussaint, on the stage, with a grand piano, for free!!! He was there with a quintet. I remembering seeing him back stage, impeccably dressed, smoking a cigarette, by himself. He seemed to be going over the lyrics in his head. His gaze was far off and he seemed to be talking to himself. He was about to go out and sing about twelve tunes in a row, probably a few he had not played in a while. His band seemed in a bit of disarray. But then they hit and all was good. I distinctly remembering him sing a beautiful rendition City of New Orleans by Steve Goodman. Like the absolute pro he was, he nailed every verse.

Night time on the City Of New Orleans
Changing cars in Memphis Tennessee
Halfway home – we’ll be there by morning
Through the Mississippi darkness, rolling down to the sea


Rest in Peace Allen Toussaint.