The answer, of course, is Algerian born musician Norbert Slama, who was the inaugural guest on WRBH’s newly launched music show, airing on Sundays at noon and midnight. If you missed it the first time, you’ve got another chance on February 10th to hear tales from this astonishing man’s life, and enjoy the lively, whirling, oh-so-French snippets of song he effortlessly coaxes from his accordion. There is a more spontaneous feel to this show than our other interview programs– for instance, I loved the contrast between host Charles Smith’s gentle, easygoing style of questioning and Norbert’s raspy, mischievous way of NOT ever answering directly–taking the listener instead on a wild ride through stories like how he met Pablo Picasso and ended up writing the official music for the Mideast Peace Treaty (this was in reply to the question “How did you end up in New Orleans?”) A natural raconteur, he begins one of his delightful tangents by uttering “Ooh-la-la!” without a trace of irony, and reveals that he once played with guitar legend Django Reinhardt, among others. When asked to play, he swings easily into the music, humming and occasionally even groaning softly along with his instrument. The interview has a serious side, too: when Charlie asks him about his blindness, and inquires if there have been any good things that have come from developing retinitis pigmentosa, without hesitation Norbert answers “My memory!” Unable to rely on documentation and written music, he must recall all of his repertoire of original songs from within his mind and heart, which makes hearing his gloriously danceable music even more remarkable. Norbert Slama is a local treasure: a conjurer of romantic music that touches our souls and also makes us want to move our feet.
Do yourself a favor and tune in on February 10th, at noon and again at midnight to hear his story and music. You won’t be disappointed.