Thursday, November 24, 2005

Time to Start that Christmas Shopping (a jury-free posting)

Hello, Folks.

Merry Christmas.

This year for Christmas, I'm promoting the idea of buying New Orleans music for Christmas presents. I can't think of a better way of using the market to help out the musicians from that great city. And let's just make one thing clear -- there is no point to rebuilding New Orleans without its musicians.

New Orleans is (was) one of the few cities in which being a musician isn't considered self-indulgent, but in which musicians are seen as the cornerstones of the community. It is (was) also one of the few cities in which the lines between "black music" and "white music" are pretty much ignored.

New Orleans is the home of American music - jazz, ragtime, swing, dixieland, blues, rhythm & blues, rock and roll and more hail from there. But today, New Orleans musicians are dispersed across the country, as the rooms in which they made their livings and honed their chops remain closed.

Few of these artists are affluent; even internationally respected artists such as Kermit Ruffins, Dr. Michael White, the Rebirth Brass Band and the Subdudes don't necessarily make alot of money. Many, such as the New Birth Brass Band, relied on weddings, sports events and private parties, as well as regular club gigs, to make ends meet; the network of jobs they relied on no longer exists. A number of great artists are functionally homeless today, following Katrina.

This cultural diaspora endangers the core of American musical culture. If the New Orleans creativity dies, I fear we will be left with Madonna Ciccone and Gwen Stefani as our cultural standard-bearers. Personally, I would find this unbearable.

So, I'm suggesting there are no better Christmas (or Hanukkah) gifts, this year, than music from New Orleans - and no better place to buy it than from New Orleans music distributors and record companies, such as the Louisiana Music Factory or Basin Street Records. They have to survive as well.

If you're not familiar with New Orleans jazz, consider the Putumayo Presents New Orleans collection. It is an excellent introduction, including pieces by Kermit Ruffins, Dr. John, Dr. Michael White, Deacon John, and others. Putumayo is donating its proceeds from this disk to relief efforts; it is available directly from Basin Street Records (less expensively than from Putumayo).

Unfortunately, my efforts to find some charitable organization to promote this idea have met with no success; any readers caring to promote the concept have my thanks. The most I've achieved is to convince the Louisiana Music Factory to include a little slip with each order it ships out suggesting that CDs made great Christmas gifts.

As a lawyer, I've done some pro-bono work for some artists from New Orleans, so I see the state these people are in. They've lost homes, instruments, master recordings, papers, written music, and jobs - often after careers that span decades. So this year, let's see if we can give them all Christmas presents that will really matter, by buying their music and giving them a taste of the national recognition that has, sadly, too long eluded them.

So, please consider this humble suggestion. Your uncle doesn't need another tie; he'd be much happier with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band's Funeral for a Friend. And don't forget to treat yourself, as well, to a taste of some of the greatest music America can produce.


At 4:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Outstanding idea! My grandfather and great uncle played at Preservation Hall for many, many years before taking their 'Closer Walk.'

These musicans keep our American heritage alive every day they gather to entertain others!

The Illinois Humphrey Family appreciates your graciousness!

At 4:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks to you (via link from Instapundit) that the Subdudes got back together. I went to college in New Orleans and saw them everytime they played. I'll never forget the first time I saw them at Tip's and asked, "Where's the drummer?" I was so upset when they did the LA/CO split (Tiny Town just wasn't the same). I now have one album to buy and another album to wait for.

At 5:29 PM, Blogger doctorj2u said...

Great idea, but I beat you to it. LOL! I bought my sister Jesse Moore's new CD "More than Life Itself". His song "It's Gonna Be OK" gives me hope to keep fighting the horrors of Katrina. He is not born in New Orleans but he has paid his dues to the city.

At 6:23 PM, Blogger Chap said...

Since you dig this kind of thing, perhaps you might suggest to the guys at WWOZ about some kind of fundraiser like this, perhaps a Paypal-for-records thing with them getting a cut? You'd help put them back on the air and they definitely would know what the N.O. music is...

At 2:04 AM, Anonymous Clive Davis said...

Nice thought! There are two benefit albums worth considering too: "Higher Ground" (Blue Note) and "Our New Orleans" (Nonesuch)

At 3:23 AM, Anonymous Keith said...

Great idea! I passed along to many friends...please do the same. And thanks from yet another lawyer, musician, and proud AFM member.

At 5:55 AM, Blogger Clay S. Conrad said...

I just wanted to clear up - I had nothing to do with the Subdudes getting back together! I think Anonymous meant he learned of their re-uniting due to my blog. They are a great act. My six year old daughter just loves Miracle Mule, their reunion album.

Tommy Malone and Jimmy Mesa from the Subdudes both suffered losses due to Katrina. They both still live in NOLA. Tommy Malone is the brother of Dave Malone (from the Radiators).

I just ask that those who like this idea pass it on to others. There's so much great music from New Orleans, from jazz to rock to klezmer to blues to dixie to funk to just-about-everything-else, that there is a present waiting there for every recipient.

Clay S. Conrad

At 3:18 PM, Anonymous Pat Hajovsky said...

I just did this, Clay. Great idea and I've sent this to some New Orleans ex-pats as well.

At 1:26 PM, Anonymous Jerry Monaco said...

This is off subject.

I was wondering if you saw this post referencing Corpus v. Bennett, No. 04-2603 (8th Cir. Dec. 7, 2005) @ Crime and Federalism....

I think that weblogger "Mike" might have missed something about judicial distrust of jury awards. Take a look. I'd be interested in your opinion.

Jerry Monaco

At 7:01 AM, Anonymous tina louise said...

Exceptional idea that I have forwarded as far as my address book will stretch. It is so much more inspired than charity. Lovely that you thought of it. Namaste and happy festive season x


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