Allen Toussaint, one of the key architects of New Orleans R&B, rock and soul music over the last half-century, plays a rare small-theater date Monday night. It's the first of a new series of intimate shows at the 250-capacity Lyric Theatre on La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles presented by Voila! Gallery.
When singer, pianist and songwriter Toussaint came through the Southland in 2010 and 2013, he appeared at UCLA’s 1,800-seat Royce Hall. The 76-year-old New Orleans native has written, produced and performed on hundreds of recording sessions dating to the 1950s, and is the composer of such hits as “Working in a Coalmine,” “Fortune Teller” and “A Certain Girl.”
“I knew Allen Toussaint was touring and I contacted his agent,” said Katrien Van der Schueren, one of the series’ organizers. “The reaction was positive almost immediately. I was also very surprised. But once we knew, we waited to launch our Voila! sessions till this moment, as his concert perfectly fits with what we want to create as a concert experience.”
Toussaint’s songs have been recorded by fellow New Orleans artists including Dr. John, Art and Aaron Neville and Irma Thomas as well as a wealth of rock and R&B heavyweights such as the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney and Otis Redding.
For decades Toussaint rarely left New Orleans, until Hurricane Katrina in 2005 forced thousands to leave the city -- some temporarily, some permanently. He said later a silver lining of that disastrous period was that it forced him to play in other cities, and he has continued to tour periodically.
In 2006, he collaborated with Elvis Costello on the Katrina-inspired album “The River in Reverse,” the first major recording session to take place in New Orleans after the storm. The results were critically acclaimed and collected a Grammy nomination for best pop vocal album.
Toussaint will be playing in a trio tonight, and tickets are $50 to $85. The show starts at 8:30 p.m. More information is available at the Voila! website. Other shows in the series include the C-Note Midwest Player Tour (May 31), Damon Wayans (June 17) and the Reverend Payton’s Big Damn Band (Aug. 1).