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Johnny Vidacovich: A Concerned Mother

Seamus Evely  /  UPDATED Aug 19, 2022


“Elvin Jones is vitamins. You gotta have Elvin Jones at least once a day.”

Johnny Vidacovich has been playing music for more than six decades. He is a jazz drummer from New Orleans, Louisiana and you can still find him at the Maple Leaf on any given Thursday night. He has been involved in many classic recordings throughout the years including James Booker’s “Classified”, Professor Longhair’s “Crawfish Fiesta” and John Scofield’s “Flat Out”, among countless others. Given the fact that Johnny has grown up and lived in New Orleans his entire life, he has the second line, syncopated New Orleans sound coursing through his veins. He is a highly respected instructor as well. A couple of his students over the years are none other than Stanton Moore and Brian Blade. It is safe to say that Johnny Vidacovich is one of the greats.

In this episode:

  • Johnny takes us back to his humble beginnings with Dunc’s Honky Tonk band that he played with when he was a young boy.
  • Johnny shares his thoughts on how he feels the music industry is today compared to how it used to be.
  • Johnny reflects on his long term working relationship with the great pianist Mose Allison.
  • Several years ago, before Johnny was going to set out on a six-week world tour, he came down with a condition in his hand called “Trigger Thumb”. Johnny shares how he worked around this and his thoughts when it first happened.
  • The Maple Leaf is a club that Johnny has played at for many years. He shares how much that place means to him.
  • Johnny’s wife, Deborah, looks after the back end stuff for Johnny. He talks about how much she has helped him over the years.


Why should you listen?

Well, because Johnny is a legend. To understand what second line drumming is, you must listen to Johnny’s work. To understand what he values as an artist, this episode will lead you closer to that. He has a lifetime’s worth of experience with music, and to get an opportunity to hear what it means to him to be a musician is heartwarming. This is an interview that I felt I needed to capture for the sake of history. I prepared a great deal for this one so that we can hear Johnny’s life story, which is fascinating, to say the least.

The title of this episode is “A Concerned Mother” because you can hear directly from Johnny how concerned he is about the state of the industry. And…well, he is a mother (which is a term of endearment towards a high-level player); I just left the last part of it out. But you catch my drift right?

This episode will capture your imagination in what times were like for Johnny and how truly humble it all has been. It has always been about the music for Johnny and to hear that in this episode is such a great reminder for so many of us.
Music featured in this episode:
“Deb’s Garden” – Vidacovich
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Feature image: Skip Bolen

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