Incongruously combining the muscled physique of a bouncer and the voice of an angel, Aaron Neville is a New Orleans music icon on two levels. As a solo artist he scored a number of local hits in the 1960s, including "Tell It Like It Is," one of the Crescent City's most indelible classics. With siblings Art, Charles, and Cyril, he created the Neville Brothers' masterful blend of NOLA R&B, soul, and second-line funk that have made them synonymous with New Orleans, eliciting nary a quibble when invariably introduced as the city's "heart and soul." Aaron's unique fluttery, soaring falsetto is as unlikely as it is magnificent. At New Orleans's annual Jazz Fest, while waiting for the Nevilles' customary fest-ending performance, Aaron often shows up unannounced in the gospel tent, singing with friends like the Zion Harmonizers. He has maintained a busy solo career alongside the Nevilles, occasionally getting sidetracked into inappropriate MOR material, but more often coming up with stunning versions of soul and R&B classics as well as songs from writers as varied as Dylan and Gershwin. In the Dakota's cozy confines, he'll lead his touring quintet, which includes brother Charles and his snaky jazz saxophone.
Wednesdays, Thursdays, 7 p.m. Starts: Aug. 19. Continues through Aug. 20, 2009