By the time you read this, the state of Louisiana will have elected a new Lieutenant Governor. This person is in charge of the budget for Culture, Recreation and Tourism, and the buck stops with him on promoting Louisiana tourism. I’ve been around for quite a few years, and have seen the interest in Louisiana music ebb and flow with governors and their lieutenants.
I can’t imagine that the state wouldn’t want to promote its wealth of music; we’re known for our music worldwide, and I have expressed many times that failing to use our music and musical heritage in promoting tourism to the state on an ongoing basis is a huge mistake. What seems to happen is that all of a sudden music is a hot topic, used for promotion for a year or so, and then drops away to promote the state as a hunting paradise, or for a tri-centennial, or some other reason. But the music is always here. To develop a brand, you need a consistent message. If we don’t brand Louisiana—and especially New Orleans—as music destinations consistently, we are losing an opportunity to attract visitors. Period. So let’s hope the new CRT head will consider our music when it comes time to develop strategies to increase visitation to the state. If I had my way, the state slogan would be “The Most Musical State in America.” Because it is. Not Texas, not Mississippi.
On another topic, I was somewhat familiar with the organization Positive Vibrations Foundation as the major sponsor of Bayou Boogaloo. The very low-key PVF (they’ve contributed about $1.5-million to the community since it was founded in 2008) was founded to create and encourage community through the development and preservation of the arts, music, culture and heritage. They underwrite music for progressive community festivals and events, support performance and industry education programs for youth, and provide the public with educational videos showcasing the musical artists and unique culture of the Gulf South.
They’ve refurbished the Lusher band room, bought instruments for musicians and kids and funded the activities of the Louis Armstrong Jazz Camp, among other activities. They’ve sponsored the Mirliton Festival and are expanding their support this year with the creation of Bywater Heritage and Rhythms Week, beginning November 1. Programming includes free percussion workshops (and free drums) for kids, a Dia de los Muertos concert on November 1 at The Port in the Bywater (featuring the fabulous Quintron and many more) and an inaugural Mirliton Masquerade Ball.
A final note: as you can see from this issue, OffBeat pays respects to half a dozen members of our music community who passed away in the previous month. This is the first time we’ve ever published this many obituaries in one issue. Our elders are leaving us, but left us their legacy. What will you leave as your legacy to the music community?