Aaron Neville performs in Sarasota

The Dirty Dozen Brass Band opens the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall show

mclear@bradenton.comMarch 13, 2014 

Aaron Neville's latest release, "My True Story," is an homage to the doo-wop era of the 1950s and '60s. PUBLICITY PHOTO

New Orleans is a city noted for its music and its musicians. Few musicians are more closely associated with the city than Aaron Neville.

So it's surprising to hear the way he now speaks of his hometown.

"I feel like I've done my time there," he said in a phone interview from his home in Greenwich Village. "It took my home and my first wife. I'm remarried now. I've put in my time."

Neville left the town where he was born and raised after Hurricane Katrina destroyed his home in 2005. He moved to Nashville, then back to Louisiana briefly. He's been in New York for several years and he's not thinking about leaving.

"It's very cool," he said. "I stay inside when it gets too cold."

He still get back to New Orleans often, including his annual performance with his brothers at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in the spring.

And he'll get a respite from the New York chill when he's in Sarasota. He'll perform today at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, one of the best bands from New Orleans, opens the show.

Neville's set will likely cover his whole career, from his first solo hit, "Tell It Like It Is," through his work with the Neville Brothers and including songs from his latest album, the acclaimed "My True Story."

"It's one of my favorite albums," he said. "Don Was and Keith Richards produced it, and Keith plays on most of the tracks."

"My True Story" is an homage to the doo-wop era of the 1950s and '60s. Neville covers such hits as "Under the Boardwalk," "Tears on My Pillow" and "Work With Me Annie."

It's likely he'll also perform some of his songs that he created as duets with Linda Ronstadt, including "Don't Know Much," one of the biggest hits of his 50-year career.

"She used to say that our voices were married, that we sang together in another life," Neville said.

There's palpable sadness in his voice when he talks about Ronstadt, with whom he remains close friends. She's unable to sing now because of Parkinson's disease.

"That was such a huge loss," he said. "She was one of the best singers who ever lived. She could do it all. I talk to her often. She's gone through some changes because of the Parkinson's, but her spirits are good."

Neville said he can't predict exactly what songs he's going to perform.

"We have a set list but I have a tendency to deviate from it," he said. "It just depends on what we're in the mood for. We have fun and we invite the audience to have fun with it."

Details: 8 p.m. March 13, Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Tickets: $45-$70 Information: 941-953-3368, www.vanwezel.org.

Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-708-7919.

Follow twitter.com/martinclear.

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