Life after Katrina
My wife Hilary and I also saw the Preservation Hall Jazz Band at the North Sea Jazz Festival last Sunday and they did a great set. Sadly the PHJB were the only trad band
(out of over 200 bands ) at the Festival, which is now the largest Jazz Festival in the world. After their set (4:30 to 6:00
pm), Shannon Powell, their drummer asked Hilary and I to go to their Hotel (Hotel Atlanta in Rotterdam) for a get together again but we had to decline because we already had tickets to see other bands at the Festival. Shannon, who is a great drummer and appears on most of Harry Connick Jnr big band CDs and DVDs, was instrumental in getting me my one and only New Orleans gig in September last year when I depped for Louis 'Bicycle Louie' Lederman with the Bone Tone Brass Band for a street parade.
Since Hurricane Katrina New Orleans musicians have been badly affected by the lack of tourists and are increasingly having to rely on overseas tours to earn a living. Preservation Hall only seats about 45 (on Sunday School forms) with approximately 12 to 15 standing. They charge $6 to $8 (£3 to £4) admission depending on the line up so there isn't much in the takings for the musicians especially as the Hall doesn't have a liquor licence. At the moment, when Shannon is at home, he only plays 2 occasionally 3 nights at the PH and Sunday night at Donnas on North Rampart Street.
Another legendary New Orleans drummer Johnny Vidacovich who appears with Herman Ernest, Herlin Riley and Earl Palmer on the definitive instructional DVD 'New Orleans Drumming' and will be well known to all your on line drummers, is another great musician who along with his wife Deborah have also fallen on hard times. Their house was badly damaged by Hurricane Katrina but he is still managing to scrape a living doing a few gigs and teaching from home at 4816, Bienville Street, New Orleans, LA 70119 - any donations for help would I know be greatly appreciated but I do know and appreciate your web site is not the ideal place for such appeals, but when musicians are desperate and in dire need of help in a state where hand outs are meagre to say the least who can blame them.
Update from Chris Walker
The contributions to the UK New Orleans Musican's Appeal Fund (NOMAF) dried up about a year ago having reached the staggering total of some £45,000. ALL the money was distributed to altruist funds
The Preservation Hall fund (N. O. M. H. R. F) has now joined forces with the Home Sweet Home Organization, an organization which has funding from large companies. Money is spent on such projects as employing social workers to guide people through the trials of coming home to New Orleans, finding accommodation etc. Another offspring of N. O. M. H. R. F is “Renew Our Music” a non-profit making organization, which gives grants for anything from a new suit, repairing flood damaged homes, and refurbishing music venues.
Musician’s clinic (N. O. M. C.) a non for profit organisation has also added N. O. M. A. F (The New Orleans Assistance Foundation) to their titles and is receiving Federal Grant Funding, under this wrapper. It is still active in the field of musician’s health as well as putting on benefit concerts.
Musicians Union Fund, I think has closed
Tipitina’s, a non-profit organization, is doing a very similar thing to Renew Our Music, but is mainly putting on benefit concerts. I hear they are still very disorganized and therefore having a hard time raising funds
New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund (N. O. M. R. F) another not for profit organization which pays nothing for offices or any money to consultants. It is Dr John’s favorite and has given his support to them. They have recently helped in the passing along of guitars to New Orleans Schools and given grants for such small things as electricity bills. The first Christmas after Katrina struck, United gave them hold space and they took Christmas presents for all the musicians’ children to the city. Last year a school music teacher was shot outside his home, he managed to get into his car and drive his children to safety before dying at the wheel N. O. M. R. F paid for the funeral and shortly after the death of his father, a birthday party for the son. This organization deals with both the small things as well as large, they are there when there is need. We have personally seen this in action in the early days after Katrina; we were speaking to a musician, who stated that he did not have enough money to pay the rent because of lack of gigs. We steered him in Jeff’s (one of the founders of N. O. M. R. F) direction and the money was in the post to him the next day. This is the organization that we sent any money raised to after N. O. M. A. F had closed and money can still be sent on a credit card over the internet. The web site address is www. nomrf. org/index. html for more information and donations
So, in a nutshell, if you’re a jazz fan – get out there, have a GREAT time and spend some money!!!
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