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Fats Domino takes stage for first time since pre-Katrina

By Stacey Plaisance
Associated Press Writer

NEW ORLEANS — Friends and fans of Fats Domino were emotional as the 79-year-old rock legend took the stage before a sold-out crowd of hundreds in a New Orleans nightclub Saturday, marking Domino’s first public performance since before Hurricane Katrina.

“He’s been through so much, like a lot of us. It was great to see him out there. It really was,” said Art Neville, one of the four original Neville Brothers, just moments after Domino performed a string of hits, including “I’m Ready,” “Ain’t That a Shame,” “Shake, Rattle and Roll” and “Valley of Tears.”

Dressed in a snappy white jacket and his signature white cap, Domino was crisp and energetic as he sang and played the first hit of the night, “I’m Walkin’,” and the crowd jumped and screamed when he belted out “Blueberry Hill” a few minutes later.

Still, Domino, who suffers from performance anxiety, was not without his moments of nervousness. About three songs in, he got up and started to leave the stage but was gently coaxed back on by Eric Paulsen, a friend and New Orleans-area television news anchor.

The band, which included Domino’s longtime friend and musical partner saxophonist Herbert Hardesty, didn’t miss a beat. They began playing “Blue Monday,” to which Domino sat back down at the piano and began singing. Domino and Hardesty have been playing together since the mid-1940s.

In all, Domino and company performed about a dozen hits.

“It was emotional. There were a lot of people crying, people close to him,” said Quint Davis, producer of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, who said he wouldn’t have missed Domino’s performance for anything.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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