My Dawlin’ New Orleans

“My Darlin’ New Orleans,” held last Saturday night at Generations Hall, was apparently a great success. Last year the auction event took in $75,000 that benefited the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic. This year the event will net over $100,000 to benefit the Roots of Music. The Roots organization just also announced a $50,000 donation from ZYNC by American Express to support youth music education in New Orleans, as a part of the Backstage Pass campaign on You go guys! Without music education, we have 1) no future players and 2) no market for future music!

One of the best things about New Orleans is how willing people are to support music causes. Even the musicians take good care of their own. If someone is sick, someone in the music community throws a benefit. If a musician dies and his or her family can’t afford burial expenses, someone will step forward to help pay expenses. There’s even a “Musicians’ Tomb” in New Orleans where greats like Ernie K-Doe are buried. So there’s a real family feeling amongst the musicians and music community here in the city. I am proud to be a member of this community. Being involved with music, musicians, artists, writers, photographers and music businesses has enriched my life immeasurably and opened my eyes (and ears) to a lot more than the great music they play.

As you may know, OffBeat awarded the Roots of Music the “Music Education Award” a few weeks ago at our Best of the Beat Awards, so it was a real pleasure to know that the auction, organized by the production crew of Treme, was a grand success. One of the highlights of the evening for me was meeting Blake Leyh, who supervises the music for the series. These people are choosing great music and musicians, and the musicians are getting paid, handsomely, for what they do. It’s a great marriage of music and television, and just a small indication of what an involvement in the film and television industries can do for our musicians.

I ran into Loren Pickford, a terrific sax player and an old friend at Mojitos (the old Tomatillo’s) on Sunday. We were talking about the impact of Treme, and he told me that since his bandleader is being paid well for his work on Treme, that he gives his bandmembers a higher wage when they play as a band. Now that’s the way the trickle-down theory is supposed to work!

Buried in the Roots of Music Band

One more thing: the most enjoyable moment of Saturday evening’s auction was being smack-dab in the middle of the Roots of Music band. In full marching band regalia, about a hundred Roots of Music kids marched into Generations Hall and played several tunes with Derrick Tabb conducting. I was sitting on a barstool Joseph had pulled up near the front of the stage, and I became surrounded by kids, drums, trombones and baritones. I had to back way up so that the slides wouldn’t hit me. The sound was incredible; the band was great; the kids were disciplined and also looked like they were having a great time. When’s the last time you got to experience a New Orleans marching band from the inside out?

God, I love New Orleans!