“I need to tell you ‘natives’ just how important New Orleans is to the rest of the world. It gives us a modicum of hope that there is a place still in the world where things really matter.”
—Maximilien Valentino, New Orleans, Louisiana
Opportunities Are Elsewhere
The following letter is in response to Jan Ramsey’s blog post, “Déjà Vu All Over Again?” [January 2019] discussing the various organizations that have been created to nurture and develop the New Orleans music industry.—Ed.
Been there, done that, many times, the system is broken. Between the funds that Tipitina’s swindled and the money that is being thrown at the latest “study” each musician could be given tax credits and/or mini-grants to help them invest in their businesses. Education and commerce are not working together. Men are not working with women and sadly men still control most of the business here. Two music conferences, please! How silly, especially when neither of them are moving the needle. Neither of them engages women in any significant way, either. There is still a pervasive lack of knowledge about the music biz—all-around—at every level of leadership, event programmers and in-state “booking” agents who are ripping artists off like it was 1950. Sexism and racism are alive and well and there is no one having this conversation in music here. Cities like Austin and Nashville, or even Memphis, collaborate way better than New Orleans ever has. Stunning really after all these years—we are not even close to having our shit together. So people leave and not enough of the right people are taking their place. No one wants to work in this environment—as long as opportunities are elsewhere.
The following letter is in response to Jan Ramsey’s blog post, “Is it Important to Own Music?” [January 2019] featuring music writer Ted Gioia’s video “Does It Matter Whether We Own Music” indicating that music can only be preserved and passed on to future generations in a physical format (not digital).—Ed.
I’m with you, I collect music in all formats as well as streaming. I think not only does streaming threaten the music industry’s economic base, as the speaker claims, it can denigrate our depth of understanding. Last night, I performed in a club on Frenchmen Street. Between our sets, the bartender was playing a playlist called “Dark Country,” some of which I really liked. I suggested she might like some of Ray Wylie Hubbard’s recent garage rock country, which Valerie “The Problem Child” Kacprzak has showcased on WWOZ. She said: “Oh, I don’t know the names of the songs or artists.” That made me picture her consuming music as if you took a meal from a five-star restaurant, and put it in a blender and drank it.
—Spike Perkins, New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans Matters
I arrived in New Orleans on December 1, 2018, but the truth is my heart has always been here. The scents and tastes of this city have always possessed me—but nothing more so than the sounds. Here, unlike any city in the world, music hangs like fog in the night air, wafting from window to street corner, seeping into crevices, penetrating cracks in the pavement and making the very streets on which we walk vibrate and dance.
As an outsider just arriving here, I need to tell you “natives” just how important New Orleans is to the rest of the world. It gives us a modicum of hope that there is a place still in the world where things really matter (and those things are not investment portfolios, real estate or cable TV). Like a good meal. Like a good song. As a musician just to join you here, I need to tell you how inspiring and uplifting it is to be in a place where music “lives.”
—Maximilien Valentino, New Orleans, Louisiana
Best of the Beat
I just wanted to thank you [Jan Ramsey] and everyone there so much for the nominations. This means so much to me. It’s even more special than any other recognition from anything else, being it’s the community and city I grew up in and that I hold dear to my heart.
I really appreciate all the support for last and this year’s records. I can’t thank you all enough. You’ve made my year(s)!
—Shawn Williams, New Orleans, Louisiana
She [Doris Bastiansen of the Kerry Irish Pub] is a class act and to me, she represents what is best about New Orleans!
—Daniel Martone, New Orleans, Louisiana
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