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