Major Handy is the owner of a recently repaired heart from a procedure that began as a triple-bypass then morphed into a quadruple bypass during surgery.
Since the January operation, the 70-year-old zydeco/soul musician is doing fine. In fact, he is already back, performing concerts. This spring, he'll also play at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
Before February ends, Handy hopes to have a new release in hand, too.
Prior to surgery, Handy wasn’t feeling all that bad. Then, he learned the condition his heart was in.
“I didn’t even know what I had,” Handy said. “When they gave me that stress test, I failed it. They did an angiogram, and that’s when they saw all that blockage in my arteries.”
Then, things got more complicated. When doctors went to work on Handy, the triple bypass surgery (repairing three blocked arteries) became a quadruple bypass (repairing four).
After all was said, done and stitched up, Handy's heart and body are now in good condition. Although, he did admit he was a bit exhausted after a recent gig.
“That’s going to improve,” he said.
Now, Handy can focus on finishing up his latest unnamed, upcoming recording. A project of the Music Makers Relief Foundation, the music for the release is done. All that's left is details such as artwork and packaging.
Handy is a seven-year member of the foundation, which helps older musicians go on tour and record. In the past, Music Makers sent Handy all over the world "to various venues in the U.S., places that I’ve never heard of," he said.
The recording process started when Zak Alister, a 20-year foundation member, met Handy while on tour. Handy and his wife, Frances, showed Alister the town and their home.
“(Alister) came here and had a really good time,” Handy said. “I put on this great big ol’ jam here with Connie G., Lee Allen Zeno and all those guys. Then (Alister) asked me if I had songs that I wanted to record. And I sent him some songs — all original songs from 20, 30 years ago.”
With the foundation, Alister was mainly providing financial aid. However, he became more involved lately with recording and producing some of the foundation artists. After spending time with Handy, Alistar wanted to help the Lafayette musician in the studio.
“I love Louisiana, New Orleans and the South, and we were so welcomed at every step of our tour with the utmost respect, kindness, open arms by one and all,” Alister said. “The time we spent with Major one Sunday afternoon, between music and gumbo, was the cherry on the cake.
“So we decided to have more gumbo, more music, more cake and more cherries. For that, we went to Dockside."
Alister had already booked some time at the famed Maurice studio before it flooded last year. He gave that time to Handy.
“I didn’t do (all my songs), but I did a nice CD," Handy said.
Handy was joined by guests such as guitarist Lil Buck Sinegal, pianist Steve Smith, guitarist/bassist Ray Mouton, bassist Cal Stevenson, drummer Patrick Johnson, and saxophonist Paul Wiltz. Other special guests included the group Sweet Cecilia and singer Connie G., who also took the helm on the song "Just Once."
Across those new 12 songs, Fans can expect that signature energetic Major Handy style.
"Not the style they’re doing out there right now for those dances," Handy said, "but it’s danceable, man.
“I was so free to do it. Everybody was happy, and everybody was working hard. And nobody forgot anything. The energy is so good. ”