February 2010 Letters

BITTERSWEET POTLUCK

Just wanted to let you know that I received the “Super Potluck” box you sent me last week, and am enjoying looking through all the old issues. I moved to the New Orleans area in 1994 but didn’t really start getting into the music scene until 1997 or 1998. I haven’t missed a day of Jazz Fest or French Quarter Fest in about 10 years now. Seeing some of what I missed in the first few years I lived here is somewhat bittersweet!

Thanks again, and keep up the great work at OffBeat.

—Frank Williford, New Orleans, LA

MARKETING MUSIC

I’ve been traveling to New Orleans for 30 years. I visit six to eight times a year, maybe more now that my daughter is living there as a volunteer in Americorp for St. Bernard Project. I bring a group of 50 or so twice a year for Voodoo Fest and St. Patty’s Day. The driving force behind my visits is the music. I own a bar in Pennsylvania and most of the music we play there is New Orleans-based. We even had Bonerama play there a few months ago, and it was a great day. The point I’m making is that it’s the music that is bringing a lot of people there and the politicians should do everything they can to encourage more live music. Of course the culture, great food and party atmosphere help as well, but it’s the music. I had tickets to come to New Orleans right after Katrina and diverted to Austin instead. Music City my ass, I often travel from Sunday to Wednesday because of my business and there were limited choices for music, maybe three venues. Did see Cyril Neville there, but all he did was bad mouth New Orleans then sing songs about how great New Orleans was. I’m not sure if anyone really understands how big of an asset live music is to the city. This information should be contained in all marketing promotions for the city, and it should somehow let travelers know that there is so much more to the city then Bourbon Street. Hell, its taken 20 years for Frenchmen Street to become popular, and many tourists still don’t know about it.

—Mike Geesey, Lancaster, PA


If anything good came from Katrina, it seems to be a greater degree of cooperation/ coordination among musicians, writers, etc. Perhaps that increased partnering of various artists has helped the industry survive in spite of the enormous obstacles created by the various City agencies, etc. I just spent the week at Umbria Jazz in Italy, and spoke with many world famous musicians who LOVE New Orleans and its music. I had a long conversation with Monty Alexander who told me things about the New Orleans/Jamaican connection that were most enlightening. Monty reminded me that Troy Davis had been in his band for some years. So much of the music of the modern world has been influenced by New Orleans music in many areas. Is there any other City in the U.S.A. that has such a wonderful reputation in ANY of the arts? What can possibly be the reason that the City government turns not only a “blind eye” to the musical culture but a downright “evil eye” to one area that is unquestionably recognized in the world as a “success story” that every other city can only wish for! It just can not be that difficult to see the connection with the success of the City and the success of the music industry, can it?

—Gary Edwards, New Orleans, LA

ON TOUR

I’m a big supporter of live Louisiana music especially zydeco, Cajun and blues. I check out Louisiana Music on Tour in OffBeat online every week to see if any bands are playing in my area. Please spread the message that this is a good way to get the word out about your gig even in places like New Mexico.

—Dia Winograd, Santa Fe, NM