Hugh Laurie says 'Let Them Talk'

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Entertainment,Music,Nancy Dunham

Hugh Laurie has left the "House" that made him famous in the United States, but his presence in American popular culture is far from over.

When he began his run as Dr. Gregory House on the wildly popular Fox series "House M.D.," many U.S. viewers didn't realize Laurie is from England, so convincing was his American tone of voice and mannerisms. Some fans who hear Laurie sing in concert or on his first release for Warner Brothers, "Let Them Talk," may still find it hard to believe that he's British, so convincing is his presentation of New Orleans-style blues.

"I was not born in Alabama in the 1890s," Laurie wrote of his 2011 release. "You may as well know this now. I've never eaten grits, cropped a share or ridden a boxcar. No gypsy woman said anything to my mother when I was born and there's no hellhound on my trail, as far as I can judge. Let this record show that I am a white, middle-class Englishman, openly trespassing on the music and myth of the American south."

It is difficult to believe anyone will take offense at Laurie's self-described trespassing. Laurie gathered a team of renowned musicians and guest stars, including legendary musicians Tom Jones and Dr. John, to lovingly perform 15 classic New Orleans blues songs ranging from "You Don't Know My Mind" by Lead Belly to "Winin' Boy Blues" by Jelly Roll Morton.

Onstage
Hugh Laurie
When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria
Info: Sold out at press time, but tickets might be available through resellers; ticketmaster.com; 202-397-SEAT (7328)

Laurie is a master of poking fun at himself and his artistry as an actor, "one of those pampered ninnies who hasn't bought a loaf of bread in a decade." Yet it's clear from listening to him that ever since he discovered the blues, not long after beginning piano lessons at age 6, he's always found magic in the genre and wants to share it with others.

"[O]ne day a song came on the radio -- I'm pretty sure it was 'I Can't Quit You Baby' by Willie Dixon -- and my whole life changed. A wormhole opened between the minor and major third, and I stepped through into Wonderland," he wrote. "Since then, the blues have made me laugh, weep, dance ... well, this is a family record, and I can't tell you all the things the blues can make me do."

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