Music and Culture Are Crucial To New Orleans’ Future is just the first step to getting the decision-makers in government to “listen up.” For too long, the people of New Orleans who comprise the music, arts and culture community—the basis of the city’s quality of life and appeal to visitors—have not been organized. This time will be different. We’re asking everyone who loves New Orleans music to get involved in the effort to make the political establishment aware and responsible to the demands of this constituency.

We are obliged to not approach this as many have in the past—as a means to crawl into the public trough. I’ve been to many a meeting over the past 20 years where it was obvious that those who “play the political game” get the gigs.  This is the old New Orleans mentality. We need to rise above that.

We need to come together with one vision—and no individual agendas—to make sure that our music and culture is a part of the mayoral platform of all candidates.

Moreover, we need to make a concerted effort to convince the private sector business leaders that we are organized, serious and want them to participate in changing the city’s approach to the music industry, and using it to brand the city in a new way. And we need to convince them that everyone will benefit.

We have “real” music. It’s authentic. And it’s way cool. (Got the tagline: New Orleans: Real. Cool.) Authentic local music and culture is also something that visitors want badly, and we have to determine a way to make sure the quality of the music that’s offered in places like the Bourbon Street corridor are what visitors expect from the birthplace of jazz.

One idea that I’ve floated around in previous columns is some sort of tax incentive to encourage bars and clubs to feature live local real music. No more “Proud Mary” and eardrum-blasting hip-hop on Bourbon Street (unless it’s local hip-hop, and let’s keep  the decibel level down!). I think that’s an idea that might work, and conversations I’ve had seem to point that this may be the way to go.

We need the movers and shakers in the city—university presidents, heads of corporations and big businesses, leaders in the hospitality industry to jump on board our ship. Once that happens, things will change, for the better.

But let’s work together on this. One agenda, one goal: music unites us!

  • Kim Oren

    Thanks for your work, Jan. There's only one New Orleans! It's very unique; that's what makes it special. (We can hear “Proud Mary” anywhere.) Best, — Kim Oren, St. Joseph MN

  • Mike Geesey

    Hello Jan, Been reading your stuff for years. I can give you my perspective as a “tourist”. I've been traveling to New Orleans for 30 years. I visit 6-8 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 Pa. 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 alot 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 on Sunday – Wednesday because of my business and there were limited choices for music, maybe 3 venues. Did see Cyril Neville there but all he did was badmouth 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 St. Hell, its taken 20 years for Frenchmen St. to become popular and many tourists still don't know about it. Hope you come up with some answers. Keep up the great work. Mike

  • deansterling


    You've always been the conscience for the soul of Nawlins.

    Thank you.

    Dean Sterling
    The Mescal Sheiks
    Los Angeles, CA