Saint James Infirmary | Hugh Laurie (Let Them Talk, A Celebration of New Orleans Blues)
An American favorite for his award-winning role in the hit TV series House, the versatile British actor Hugh Laurie showcases his musical side in an atmospheric personal odyssey filmed on location in New Orleans. Hugh Laurie: Let Them Talk – A Celebration of New Orleans Blues.
An American favorite for his award-winning role in the hit TV series House, the versatile British actor Hugh Laurie showcases his musical side in an atmospheric personal odyssey filmed on location in New Orleans. Hugh Laurie: Let Them Talk – A Celebration of New Orleans Blues airs on THIRTEEN’s Great Performances Friday, September 30 at 9 p.m. ET on PBS (check local listings).
Defying simple categorization, Laurie finds his greatest satisfaction and inspiration from the mixture of blues and jazz that grew out of New Orleans at the beginning of the last century. He was inspired as a teenager by hearing blues great Professor Longhair’s “Tipitina.” Let Them Talk is Laurie’s very personal journey into the heart and soul of that music: “Here I am in the French Quarter playing with all these amazing musicians. This may be about as good as it gets. In fact, this may be what heaven is like.”
Laurie sings a wide selection of tunes, accompanying himself on piano or guitar, and backed by some of the town’s top-flight musicians. He refuses to pigeonhole his selections. “There are only two categories: good and bad. Those are the only things that matter.”
Throughout the hour, there are intimate performances and rehearsals with blues legends Allen Toussaint and Irma Thomas, known as the “Soul Queen of New Orleans,” as well as another fellow traveler from Great Britain similarly inspired by this uniquely American music, Sir Tom Jones.
Hugh Laurie: Let Them Talk – A Celebration of New Orleans Blues also includes documentary segments showing Laurie’s daytime and nocturnal travels around the city on foot, by bike, or car, including a visit to the legendary Euclid Records shop, where he reverently inspects the classic LPs there.
Laurie dubs the city “the most romantic place on earth” and observes that this is “a city that doesn’t fear death. It’s looked death in the eye.” This aspect is reflected in its music, he notes. “Death is the minor key. Life is the major key.”
He freely admits he’s following “in the footsteps of Martin Scorsese, Ken Burns, and Spike Lee,” all of whom memorably trod similar cinematic musical paths
Of Laurie’s piano prowess, Jones observes admiringly, “He must have listened to a lot of blues players, a lot of boogie-woogie players,” and notes that Laurie’s playing resembles that of Jerry Lee Lewis. Thomas marvels that when she saw him on the keyboards on House, she “could tell he was actually playing.”
With concert sequences filmed at the historic Latrobe’s building in the French Quarter, the musical selections include New Orleans blues standards along with forgotten and neglected gems.