[Dixielandjazz] future of New Orleans music (article in Thursday's Dallas Morning News)

David Richoux tubaman at tubatoast.com
Sat Sep 3 08:55:29 PDT 2005

New Orleans' musical future at risk

10:38 AM CDT on Thursday, September 1, 2005

By THOR CHRISTENSEN / The Dallas Morning News

  New Orleans will always be the birthplace of jazz. But in wake of 
Hurricane Katrina, the city's famed music scene could take years to 
bounce back.

  FILE 1999/AP
  The future of musicians such as Doreen's Jazz Band (top) and landmarks 
such as Preservation Hall are in question.

  "This could really cripple it," says Jon Cleary, one the city's 
best-known keyboardists, speaking by phone from Los Angeles, where he's 
recording with Bonnie Raitt.

  "A lot of the fans who have money to go see music will be leaving the 
city – and without audiences, clubs can't pay musicians, and then 
nobody gets gigs."

  "New Orleans has been a musician's paradise," says Chris Lee of the 
rock band Supagroup. "But if musicians start leaving, that cool vibrant 
music scene could be gone."

  Although New Orleans is synonymous with jazz – a sound invented at the 
dawn of the 1900s and later perfected by Louis Armstrong – it's also 
been a major spawning ground for R&B, funk and rock 'n' roll. The city 
has nurtured musical dynasties: the Nevilles, the Marsalis family and 
music landmarks such as Preservation Hall. Little Richard and Ray 
Charles made key early records there, as did Fats Domino, one of the 
city's most famous residents.

  "I heard Fats Domino's house is under water," says bassist Robert 
Mercurio of the New Orleans funk-rock band Galactic, by phone from 
Seattle. "There's so much heritage, but I'm sure a lot of those old 
homes and recording studios will be ruined."

  "History is literally drowning," says Mr. Lee by phone from Memphis. 
"Bourbon Street will always be there, but that's almost exclusively 
full of cover bands, and there are a ton of really classic old jazz 
places that aren't gonna come back."

  New Orleans is also famous for its annual springtime Jazz & Heritage 
Festival, which draws hundreds of thousands of music lovers from around 
the U.S. More recently it's hosted a big annual rock fest, the Voodoo 
Music Experience, which is scheduled for Oct. 29-30.

  There's no official word yet on the fate of those festivals, but Mr. 
Mercurio worries a lot of music fans will stop coming: "New Orleans 
really survives off of out-of-towners, and people will think: 'Do I 
really wanna visit there now? Maybe I'll wait a few years.' "

  All three musicians had yet to find out what condition their homes 
were in Wednesday.

  "I'm going on the assumption that it's all gone – my studio, my 
guitars, my keyboards, all my work," says Mr. Cleary, who lives in the 
Bywater neighborhood near the French Quarter. "And even if the house 
survived, I'm worried that people have looted everything in it."

  "I heard big clubs like Tipitina's and House of Blues are fine," says 
Mr. Mercurio, "but I'm more afraid about all the little clubs where the 
local musicians play. If the little clubs are gone – or if they take 
years to be rebuilt – the community will never be the same."

  The city is blessed with dozens of funky little nightspots like the 
Circle Club, the Maple Leaf and the Rock 'n' Bowl. But clubs or no 
clubs, the spirit of New Orleans music will still survive, says Mr. 

  "They could tear the whole place to the ground and within a couple of 
weeks, you'd hear somebody walking around playing a trumpet," he says. 
"Thank God we have music. It's the one thing a hurricane can't blow 

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