Hugh Laurie: Let Them Talk –
A Celebration of New Orleans Blues
The Actor’s Personal Odyssey Through the City’s Rich Musical Tradition
on Great Performances.
Thursday, September 8th, 2011
Airs Friday, September 30 at 8 p.m. on WTVP 47.1
Special guest appearances by legends Allen Toussaint and Irma Thomas
and fellow blues enthusiast Sir Tom Jones.
An American favorite for his award-winning role in the hit TV series House M.D., the versatile British
actor Hugh Laurie showcases his musical side in an atmospheric personal odyssey filmed on location in New Orleans.
Defying simple categorization, Laurie finds his greatest satisfaction and inspiration from the mixture of blues
and jazz that grew out of New Orleans at the beginning of the last century. He was inspired as a teenager by hearing blues
great Professor Longhair’s “Tipitina.” Let Them Talk is Laurie’s very personal journey into the heart and soul
of that music: “Here I am in the French Quarter playing with all these amazing musicians. This may be about as good as it
gets. In fact, this may be what heaven is like.”
Laurie sings a wide selection of tunes, accompanying himself on piano or guitar, and backed by some of the
town’s top-flight musicians. He refuses to pigeonhole his selections. “There are only two categories: good and bad. Those are
the only things that matter.”
Throughout the hour, there are intimate performances and rehearsals with blues legends Allen Toussaint
and Irma Thomas, known as the “Soul Queen of New Orleans,” as well as another fellow traveler from Great Britain similarly
inspired by this uniquely American music, Sir Tom Jones.
Laurie dubs the city “the most romantic place on earth” and observes that this is “a city that doesn’t fear
death. It’s looked death in the eye.” This aspect is reflected in its music, he notes. “Death is the minor key. Life is the
major key.” He freely admits he’s following “in the footsteps of Martin Scorsese, Ken Burns, and Spike Lee,” all of whom
memorably trod similar cinematic musical paths.
Of Laurie’s piano prowess, Jones observes admiringly, “He must have listened to a lot of blues players,
a lot of boogie-woogie players,” and notes that Laurie’s playing resembles that of Jerry Lee Lewis. Thomas marvels that
when she saw him on the keyboards on House, she “could tell he was actually playing.”
With concert sequences filmed at the historic Latrobe’s building in the French Quarter, the musical selections
include New Orleans blues standards along with forgotten and neglected gems.
“Swanee River” (Foster/Charles)
“Baby What Do You Want Me to Do”/“You Got Me Running” (Jimmy Read)
Miss Lovell White & The Austin Blues Society Band
“You Don’t Know My Mind” (Williams/Gray/Liston)
“You Don’t Know Me” (Walker/Arnold)
Lady on Guitar
“Copperhead Road” (Steve Earle)
Group Singing and Playing Guitars
“Luckenbach Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)” (Moman/Emmons)
Group Singing and Playing Banjos/Guitars
“John Henry” (Traditional Arrangement – Chatman)
Hugh Laurie/Irma Thomas
“St. James Infirmary” (Traditional Arrangement – Primrose)
“Baby Please Make A Change” (Mississippi Sheiks)
Hugh Laurie/Tom Jones/Irma Thomas
“Let Them Talk”
“Tipitina” (Professor Longhair)
No stranger to public television, Laurie’s “Jeeves and Wooster” (with comedy partner Stephen Fry) was
a popular Masterpiece Theatre presentation in the early 1990s.
is a production of THIRTEEN for WNET New York Public Media, one of America’s most prolific and respected public media providers.
For nearly 50 years, WNET has been producing and broadcasting national and local arts programming to the New York community.
Major funding for the Great Performances telecast is provided by Vivian Milstein, LuEsther T. Mertz, the
Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, and the Filomen M. D’Agostino Foundation.
About WNET New York Public Media.
WNET is America’s flagship public media outlet, bringing quality
arts, education and public affairs programming to over 5 million
viewers each week. The parent company of public television
WLIW21 and operator of NJTV, WNET produces such acclaimed
PBS series as
Need to Know,
Tavis Smiley and a range of documentaries, children’s
programs, and local news and cultural offerings available on air
and online. Pioneers in educational programming, WNET has
created such groundbreaking series as
Get the Math,
Noah Comprende and
Cyberchase and provides tools for educators that bring
compelling content to life in the classroom and at home. WNET
highlights the tri-state’s unique culture and diverse
Reel 13, NJ Today and the new online newsmagazine
For further information contact Linda Miller, WTVP Vice President of
at (309) 495-0591 or firstname.lastname@example.org