Coco Robicheaux

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Louisiana bluesman Coco Robicheaux was no stranger to the blues, either musically or otherwise. He played the blues most of his life, fronting his own band when he was 13 years old, playing Bourbon Street…
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Louisiana bluesman Coco Robicheaux was no stranger to the blues, either musically or otherwise. He played the blues most of his life, fronting his own band when he was 13 years old, playing Bourbon Street just two years later, and inking a record deal around the age of 18. Sounds like smooth sailing, but that often wasn't the case for the musician. He suffered a broken back when a vehicle struck him, and his lack of health insurance sent him to a charity hospital. In severe pain, he waited more than 24 hours beside a gunshot victim in an emergency room. The experience gave him a firsthand look at what a large segment of the population goes through due to lack of affordable health insurance, and it strengthened his resolve to do something to help.

He was one of the featured volunteer contributors on the CD Get You a Healin', a fundraising project for the New Orleans Musicians' Clinic housed in the Health Sciences Center at LSU. Appearing with Robicheaux on the funk disc were Maria Muldaur, the Funky Meters, Luther Kent, and Dr. John, among others. The album's playful concept centered each track on a part of the body or a health condition, and Robicheaux contributed "Louisiana Medicine Man." Also included were "Rockin' Pneumonia" by the Funky Meters and "Pain in My Heart" from the Gyptians, among other songs. During the '60s in San Francisco, Robicheaux helped establish a free health clinic with another civic-minded crew that counted among its members singer Janis Joplin.

Born Curtis John Arceneaux in 1947 in Ascension Parish, Louisiana, Robicheaux was the oldest child of four born to Virginia and Herman Arceneaux. He made a record in 1965 for Mississippi label JB, but did not record further until the mid-'90s, when he put out Spiritland for Orleans Records. The album was well received, and in 1998 Robicheaux recorded Louisiana Medicine Man and followed up with Hoodoo Party. In 1998, Offbeat magazine dubbed him the winner of its award for the year's Best Blues Album by a Louisiana Artist. He received three nominations, one in the category of Best Blues Artist, from the Big Easy Entertainment Awards the following year. In addition to his New Orleans gigs, he performed in Colorado, New York, South Carolina, Australia, and Paris. He played festivals in Canada and France, and appeared for eight consecutive years at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival beginning in 1994. He also played annually at the New Orleans French Quarter Festival starting in 1995. After the turn of the millennium, Robicheaux released three albums on the Spiritland label: Yeah, U Rite! (2005), Like I Said, Yeah, U Rite! (2008), and Revelator (2010). Coco Robicheaux died in New Orleans in November 2011 at the age of 64.