Back from New Orleans trip #6 and it feels refreshed this time. As in previous posts, I was there to hang out with a smart, thoughtful, committed group of musicians about activism for a few days culminating in a fantastic rock show at One Eyed Jacks.
Our opening night party at Mother-in-Law Lounge had the best pick-up band of all time with George Porter, Jr. from The Meters, Terrence Higgins from Rebirth Brass Band, three members of Bonerama, keyboardist Brian Coogan, a crawfish boil, and lots of dancing.
Other highlights: meeting David Montana, the Second Chief of the Yellow Pocahontas tribe (read more - my photos were taken with permission), visiting Ronald Lewis and a Mardi Gras Indian and Social Aid & Pleasure Club Museum called The House of Dance & Feathers and po-boys. Leah Chase made the best dinner I've ever had at the legendary Dooky Chase restaurant. From there the night segued into wild dancing to the Stooges Brass Band (listen here) at the Hi-Ho Lounge and a nightcap of beignets and coffee at Cafe du Monde.
I know it's easy to forget about New Orleans when it's been nearly five years since Hurricane Katrina and there have been earthquakes in Haiti, Chile, Iran, Pakistan, and China, a tsunami in Southeast Asia, not to mention all the smaller and man-made disasters that don't inspire telethons. But New Orleans is ours - the music community's and America's. It's the birthplace of so much American music and we stand to lose a part of what makes us unique if we let it slip away for lack of effort.
Just over a year post-storm, my first trip was so devastating it was hard to imagine that the sky was ever bright over that city. I'm sure it was sunny but my memories of that trip look like this.
This time around I could see progress. Brad Pitt's and Global Green's houses don't look as lonely as they did last time. There is, of course, still plenty to do and there's plenty of anger that it's still undone. There are still people living in Houston and elsewhere. The economic downturn has no doubt slowed down the recovery process. Still, there were also fewer houses with spray paint on them, more traffic, more people out, the sounds of construction, and a feeling of normalcy and hope all around.