If you close your eyes in this summer heat and humidity while listening to Phil Dutton and The Alligators, you might think you’re in a Louisiana roadhouse munching po-boys and knocking back a sweating mug of beer. Bonus: no plane ticket.
For seven years, Dutton and The Alligators have delighted local audiences with their gumbo stew of toe-tapping Louisiana musical styles. Their one hundred song list includes zany zydeco, swamp pop, and R & B jazz, with a nod to iconic musicians like Satchmo and Clifton Chenier.
Dutton, a Louisiana native, discovered his interest in music as a church organist, but it wasn’t until after his professional life in business that he reconnected with his love for the piano and decided to hone his skills at the keyboard.
“One of the first concerts I saw as a kid was Dr. John at a big stadium in Shreveport, and that was when he created the persona “Dr. John” on his Gumbo Tour. He comes out with that big headdress on. It kind of blew my mind. Well, I guess that stuck,” he recalls.
But it was after Phil and his wife Linda moved to the Eastern Shore, the musician caught the Louisiana music bug again and embraced the New Orleans piano style. As he began to play with other like-minded musicians, The Alligators took shape.
When he’s not rehearsing with the band, Dutton is involved with community social issues. He’s on the board of Minary’s Dream Alliance, co-chair of James Taylor Justice Coalition, and is a member of Social Action Committee for Racial Justice. Linda also dedicates much of her time as board member of PFLAG Chestertown Chapter, an education and advocacy group promoting LGBT equality.
Dutton appreciates Kent County’s support of arts and attributes it to The Alligators’ ongoing enthusiasm to entertain.
“This is such an accepting community for artists,” he says. “You can do no wrong; everybody is so supportive.”
Over the years, The Alligators have dazzled their way across the Mid-Shore with performances at The Avalon Theatre in Easton, The Mainstay in Rock Hall, and at The Shanty at Tolchester Marina for several years, along with private parties and spontaneous get-togethers.
The Spy recently visited Dutton in Worton and asked for a quick lesson in “Junker Style” piano. As always, he brightened the moment with talent, class, and good humor.
This video is approximately five minutes in length. For more about Phil Dutton and The Alligators, see their Facebook page here.