I’ve been ranting for years about what we need to do to fix New Orleans music. One of the biggest problems is that all of us locals know what’s great about New Orleans music, but—unless you’re a French Quarter or Jazz “Fester” you may not really understand the big hoohah about New Orleans music and musicians. All of us who are involved in the music community are glued to the TV set on Sunday evenings so we can catch every minute of Tremé. It’s such a kick to see all the musicians and locals I know who are part of the cast, and of course, the storyline is so right on. So imagine my shock and surprise when I find out that people don’t know about Tremé. Many of my family members live in Baton Rouge, and at a Mothers’ Day family event last Sunday, I was amazed to discover that none of them had even heard of HBO’s Tremé.
Wow. We have some work to do.
We music freaks tend to live in a little bubble. Our world revolves around the next big show on Frenchmen Street, or the Wolf, or Tips, or Tuesdays at the Maple Leaf. Most of us musifriques don’t listen, for the most part, to commercial radio, although we’re certainly tuned in on iTunes, or Rhapsody or Pandora. We’re more into local non-commercial radio, so it’s all the sweeter to see the music honored on a nationally broadcast show on HBO.
Needless to say, I heartily recommended Tremé to my relatives, and I hope they tune in. Maybe they’ll learn something.
We have to realize that not everyone is as into the music and the culture as we are, and I think that’s where our job as a community has to start: to educate those who do not appreciate or understand why what we have is so unique and wonderful, and how huge an impact it has on our community. And I just don’t mean people who live outside Louisiana. I mean those folks—like the ones in Baton Rouge—who do not have a clue what our culture is all about and how important it is. How do we do that?
Well, OffBeat is a good start. If you know anyone who needs to know more about local music and culture, steer them our way. They may listen to commercial radio and not know Bo Dollis from Bobby Jindal (now there’s a comparison!), but it’s up to the musifriques to take the initiative to get the word out. Think about it: there’s a publication in New Orleans whose primary focus is music and local culture. It’s out there for free (or you could subscribe). It’s been in New Orleans for 23 years. Not very many cities in the US can claim a magazine like ours. Since OffBeat has been around, there’s a lot more attention that’s being paid to music from both inside and outside New Orleans media. We’re proud to have been influential in drawing attention to New Orleans and Louisiana music and culture, and keeping the flame alive. But there’s a lot more to be done.
It’s up to us—and you—to support the music and to spread the word.
A brief word about the oil spill: this is a tragedy that’s unprecedented in US history. It’s potentially—and most likely—going to have a catastrophic effect on everyone in South Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. It’s not only ruining our coastline’s natural beauty; it could wipe out our wetlands and destroy our last natural bastion against hurricanes. We depend on the gulf for our livelihoods. Make sure you attend the relief benefit this Sunday, or simply donate to the cause. Check out the Weekly Beat for more information, and go here for some devastating photos of the spill.