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Allen Toussaint is All Smiles at the Montreal Jazz Festival

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Allen Toussaint
A standing ovation is a pretty great way to start a concert--and with more than 50 years of songwriting and recording to his credit, Allen Toussaint deserves nothing less.

The warm welcome came at 6PM in a church basement just outside of the Montreal Jazz Festival grounds, and from there the evening unfolded like the best-kept secret of the night, if not the entire fest.

Toussaint was in a chatty mood and roped his songs together with anecdotes from his long career. When he was in the military he formed a band and the guys thought his tunes were corny, he said. Once he found himself at the country music awards, where he was “the only guy there without a cowboy hat on." Even gems like, “I don't mind cocky people because they've got something to live up to," helped to colour the night with smiles and laughter.

For those who don't know, Toussaint is the man behind such beloved tracks as 'Java,' 'Working in the Coalmine,' and 'Fortune Teller'--a song the Rolling Stones rolled all the way to the bank, he jokes. It's also extremely rare for the Louisiana-born musician to perform alone, making the event particularly special for his fans and the R&B legend alike.

“There are some hip people in this audience," he teased after a few avid attendees jumped at the chance to chime in, “What's her name?" to the chart-topping 'Mother-In-Law.' This and many other endearing moments--like the story about his grandmother calling to remind him that she was his mother's mother-in-law after the sassy song hit the airwaves--drew big smiles from the crowd.

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