[Dixielandjazz] Uncaring city councils

LARRY'S Signs and Large Format Printing sign.guy at charter.net
Sun Oct 10 10:52:03 PDT 2004

It's true things change but welcome to New Orleans and the present.  You lament the loss of "storyville" and that it isn't even marked.  Actually there is I believe a historical marker, if the History channel is to be believed.  The only thing that happened to Storyville is that it moved to those bars and other sleazy spots in town.  It's alive and well the only difference is the price went up and you have to look in the yellow pages under Escort Services.  If there had been a T shirt industry it would have been there.  There are numerous street bands.  Although the quality leaves much to be desired sometimes but they are there hustling for bucks.  

Don't go there to find the past.  The past is dead and the past that is remembered may never have existed quite the way we would like.  There are several versions of the Alamo story for example.

>From visiting and playing in New Orleans several times and reading a lot of history I conclude that New Orleans has had a sleazy sordid past.  It is a town of true mixing of several cultures that has gone through slavery, wars and is about the only town I know of that celebrates it's square mile of whorehouses and opens itself to a yearly bash of beads, booze and jazz. "Show us your T-ts" has become a cultural export just as much as Jazz 

I think it's a matter of timing.  If you walk down the street anywhere in New Orleans on a Tuesday morning you won't find much but the T shirt guys but go there  on Saturday night or on Fat Tuesday.  It's a different place.  Like Brigadoon it rises out of the mist.

I don't live there and I can't know everything about the place from a half dozen visits and I don't pretend to know what their city council is doing but every time I have been there I was pleased with my visit both musically and as a tourist.  

I have played in a lot of places.  I observed drunk Eskimos in the streets of Fairbanks,  Drunk Hawaiians in the parks of Honolulu and just a lot of street bums here on the mainland.  Did I miss something.  Were there no drunks when jazz was being formed?  Did they not sleep in the parks?  I guess my wildest dreams would have been met if I had seen a street band with Louis Armstrong and Pete Fountain in the lead trotting down the street.  But I didn't see them but on the other hand I didn't expect that.

We have a rich heritage that originated in New Orleans and other river towns and spread to the world.  Nostalgia means bucks to cities that have that heritage and it's a loss if they don't exploit it.  There is a resurgence in Trad Jazz here in St. Louis but it isn't as big as I would like and is dependent on the gambling here.  I got an enquiry from the Robert E. Lee restaurant (on the riverboat) the other day about a band.  They had gone out of business but now have a new management and moved the boat a few miles down river.  So things are looking up somewhat here.  The "city council" had nothing to do with it.  this is good old American Free enterprise at work which says that only things worth paying for are worth keeping.  So convince business that Trad Jazz (or any other) can make them money and you will have bands lining the streets.

City councils have a whole lot more to worry about than the art form of the day and that's the real problem.  Funding for the arts is down nationally.  I used to play several times a year in one of the local community auditoriums funded by their arts council.  They just don't have the bucks.

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