Last week marked the birthday of New Orleans blues guitarist Snooks Eaglin. Snooks was a legend of New Orleans music, but not enough people know about him. Eaglin played with Professor Longhair and also played guitar on the Wild Magnolias’ first album. Snooks passed in 2009, but his music and the joy he had playing still resonates deeply with many NOLA music fans.
As I walked into the Mid-City Lanes Rock ‘n Bowl, an elderly blind man was carefully navigating his way up the rickety stairs. I didn’t realize at the time that this was Snooks Eaglin. I was about to find out. For over two hours, he completely melted the stage of that bowling alley.
Every time I saw Snooks live, it was totally mind blowing. Snooks shows would be a combination of blues, jazz, funk and quality old school New Orleans R&B. You would never know what he would play. Anything could happen. He would often just call out key changes to songs as he went along. Snooks rarely used set lists, he would often take requests shouted from the dancing crowd. Meters bassist George Porter Jr. played with Snooks for many years. When I interviewed George, he talked about the experience of playing shows with Snooks, “Before the gig is over, you will have played three or four songs you’ve never heard before in your life.”
Below is one of my favorite Snooks clips. It’s a cover of Professor Longhair’s “Red Beans.” George Porter Jr. is on bass and Jon Cleary plays piano on this live version. So much soul and fire on this tune! Once you know about Snooks Eaglin, you will quickly learn why he is considered a legend of NOLA music.