Music legend returns to WOU

MONMOUTH — Legendary New Orleans musician Allen Toussaint visits Monmouth Saturday night for a return performance as part of the Western Oregon University Smith Fine Arts Series.

Toussaint, who appeared in Monmouth in June 2011 during the SFAS, will be joined onstage this time by the 35-piece Western Hemisphere Orchestra for the 7:30 p.m. concert at WOU’s Rice Auditorium.

Dubbed the “Amadeus of New Orleans,” the piano professor has influenced artists from the 1950s to present day. His catalog of songs has generated hits on the rhythm and blues, pop, country and dance charts, and many remain on heavy rotation in various radio formats. His tunes continue to pop up as TV themes and advertising jingles.

Toussaint, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011, has crossed many paths in his illustrious career in music. He has produced, written for, arranged, had his songs covered by and performed with music giants including Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, Elvis Costello, Patti LaBelle, Aaron and Art Neville, Joe Cocker, The Band, Little Feat, The Rolling Stones, Etta James and countless others.

Austin City Limits once wrote that Toussaint is “New Orleans’ greatest modern musical genius.”

President Barack Obama presented Toussaint with the National Medal of Arts in 2012.

Toussaint returned to the national spotlight Nov. 21 during Episode 6 of the HBO series “Sonic Highways” featuring Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters. The series pays tribute to the history of American music, with the Nov. 21 show highlighting New Orleans’ unique and colorful music history.

If You Go …

What: Allen Toussaint with the Western Hemisphere Orchestra, part of the 2014-15 Western Oregon University Smith Fine Arts Series.

When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Rice Auditorium, Western Oregon University, 345 N. Monmouth Ave., Monmouth.

Tickets: Adults, $25 in advance, $28 at the door; students, $11.

For more information: 503-838-8333; wou.edu/sfa; email to fineart@wou.edu.

Polk County Itemizer-Observer
by Kurt Holland