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Dr. John’s New Management Talks

Dr. John completed a successful and tumultuous 2012 by signing with a new management team and parting ways with his Lower 911 band, the tight unit that has backed him since 2001. Even as he was enjoying his most high-profile success in years behind the Locked Down album with a band assembled by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, Mac Rebennack was searching for new representation (see “Dr. John’s Next Maneuver” in the July 2012 issue of OffBeat).

New managers Sam Feldman and Michael Gorfaine are with separate agencies but work together for a variety of clients.

“Mike and I have been friends for a very long time and we keep each other in the loop on everything,” says Feldman. “My orientation is more toward the film business and management. If there are any big decisions to be made we’ll do them together. We’re great as partners. We haven’t put together a firm plan yet. Our first order of business is to sort out any ongoing issues and obviously finish up whatever obligations he has from before. We switched him to a different agent, Monterey International, and we’ve started creative discussions with regard to the next recording.

“We have some things in the works that will definitely raise Mac’s profile and make him more visible across the country. We’re involved in the process of revitalizing his career. He’s an icon, and a lot of fun to work with. Definitely one of the more unique guys on the planet.”

Though Locked Down was a success, Dr. John’s contract with Nonesuch was just for that album. The new management will be looking for a similar arrangement.

“With all our clients we try to avoid long-term record deals,” says Feldman. “It’s just not the way things work anymore. You really have to go project by project. You want to place the right concept with the most appropriate label for that project. So you’re not tying yourself up in some long-term deal where your career direction might not be consistent with what that label wants. You have to try to find the right fit and we’re capable of doing that. We’ll put him in the right place. Also, in this day and age when radio is such a difficult pursuit we try to get our clients’ music out there every which way we can. It’s a matter of matching the right song with the right film, things like that.”

Rebennack has retained his band leader and arranger, trombonist Sarah Morrow, who has been a key element in his recent successes, introducing him to her former schoolmate Auerbach and writing arrangements for his three-night career overview at the Brooklyn Academy of Music last spring.

Dr. John is currently rehearsing a new band. His next scheduled performance is February 6 at the Sacramento College of Performing Arts.

Check back here later this week for Swenson’s talk with Rebennack.