New Orleans and Nashville
This letter is in response to Jan Ramsey’s blog post “The Difference Between New Orleans and Nashville” with guest editorial by Loyola’s Music Industry Studies Program former director John Snyder.—ED.
My fourteen year old son Lieff auditioned at and was recruited by NOCCA [New Orleans Center for Creative Arts], and the high school and the city offered something that all our years in Brooklyn and Manhattan couldn’t compete with. Not for a dedicated talented young jazz and funk drummer. Where else but NOCCA and this town would better support a streetwise grooving young teen player who lives in the spaces where Monk, James Brown, Miles Davis, the Meters, Mac, Stevie, Marvin, Aretha, Herbie, P-Funk, D’Angelo, Angelique Kidjo, Treme Brass Band, Snarky Puppy, and Tank and the Bangas all cross paths? I sublet our longtime place in Brooklyn, and rented a little home three blocks from NOCCA in Bywater. Lieff is thriving.
Lieff has been raised backstage (and a bit on stage). I’ve produced hundreds of concerts for George Wein’s Festival Productions out of the New York City office since 1989—JVC Jazz at Carnegie Hall to Newport Jazz and Folks Fests to Jazz Fest in New Orleans to Playboy Jazz to JVC in Europe. Visited NOLA dozens of times since the late ’80s, and was transfixed the very first time—so this family move was somewhat premeditated, but it is still a major consciousness raiser being here as a resident now.
Enough backstory, back to your [John Snyder’s] essay.
Nothing can compete with the unique vibe of this town. It all feeds off each other—the music, food, architecture, religions, art, history, slavery, economy, the weather, street vibe and culture, and on and on.
I’d respectfully argue that in New Orleans the groove and vibe here seems to come before the song (notwithstanding hundreds of chestnuts). In the discussion about New Orleans and Nashville, New Orleans’ culture is deeper than the hole that goes all the way to China. But Nashville is a songwriter town much more than New Orleans is. It is simply true that the New Orleans impact is far less in its songwriting legacy (Armstrong, Jelly Roll, Dave Bartholomew, Allan Toussaint, Art Neville, Mac) than in its unbelievable sound feel and vibe. The list of impactful Nashville songwriters, though, is beyond over the top (Hank, Cash, Parton, Haggard, Kris, Willie, Reba, Loretta, et al).
I’m in love with New Orleans, and I’m paying attention to certain new artists here who are also songwriters—Tank Ball, PJ Morton, Aurora Nealand, and several others I feel are creating new inspiring music that moves the needle. New Orleans’ glorious music traditions will remain intact, I just look to the songwriters who will help transform the scene to something even richer than it already is.
You [Jan Ramsey] and the OffBeat staff do awesome work. I’ve been a reader for decades. Many thanks for the great work.
—Danny Kapilian, Brooklyn, New York
International Folk Alliance
My wife Barbara and I will be attending our first International Folk Alliance gathering this January, both because it is time for us to try this event out and also because the current meeting is in New Orleans and we love opportunities beyond Jazz Fest to come down. Now that we have joined the Folk Alliance as non-performer members, we receive their periodic emails. Given this, I want to congratulate you [Jan Ramsey] on being recognized by the Folk Alliance for your contributions to folk music and New Orleans. This is a wonderful honor, well-deserved.
—Gordon R. Hodas, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania