Sport Your Support With BCS Tix and Gear

Calling Sportsfans: Grewvia Productions not only made NOMRF's great Ian Hunter (HOW'S YOUR HOUSE VIDEO) they've donated two Sugar Bowl tickets for auction HERE

AND this just in, NOMRF is offering Two BCS Championship Tickets on the 20 Yard Line, 8 rows off the field: (BID FOR BCS HERE). Help us ring in a Happy New Year, and support the music.

You can also visit our online (SHOP) for Dennis Procopio's Fleur de Mains and Time to Face the Music. And stop in at the new Saving NOLA Store in Jax Brewery for more merch.

The Doctor Is In

You know you've been to a great show when the drummer introduces the headliner for his encore as "One pissed off mother------."

At a hometown show last night, Dr. John summed up the conditions that the city's traditional culture is still reeling from. On his list of what's wrong? A squad of police cars showing up for a second line to arrest musicians. "They have to understand that this is a spiritual city," he said. Tootie Montana died at City Hall trying to get that across.

Big Chief Montana was complaining about the arrests of Mardi Gras Indians at the annual St. Joseph's Day gathering. He said "This has Got to Stop," had a heart attack and passed away. The Indians carried him out of City Hall singing Indian Red.

Classics like Indian Red, Iko Iko, and the great Wardell Quezergue's It Ain't My Fault do something to your molecular structure when you've lived here long enough. All it takes is a few bars of:

Come kitty kitty come come, walk on gilded splinters . . .

And there you are in another trance staring at the skeleton on the piano.

Last night, Dr. John expounded for a good five minutes at the end of his show and noted that so many people, audience members included, were screwed over after the levee failure. He preaches it everywhere. Every show, every town.

How every level of government failed Katrina survivors, and the help still coming is from individuals. When he's talking to his hometown it's preaching to the choir, but it helps at least this choir member's healing.

A tireless supporter of the Gulf Coast, Dr. John has lent his voice to causes including restoring the wetlands, New Orleans Musicians Clinic and the (New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund). He's become a friend.

In fine form, the Rev. Goat Carson played jawbone and at times waved his raven's wing over the crowd as a powerful symbol because, as he says, in the end the buzzard gets us all.

Dr. John and Goat wrote the new song, My People Need a Second Line that closed the show. If Dr. John's upcoming CD is as good as this song, he should have another Grammy coming.

A second concert is set for tonight (Saturday), 8 p.m. House of Blues, if you'd like to share in the pissedoffedness. Jon Cleary opens on solo piano.


Great Sugar Bowl Benefit Tickets

In keeping with a Happy New Year, the same producer who made Ian Hunter's How's Your House Video has donated Sugar Bowl tickets to benefit the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund. Really good tickets. Plaza Level, 41 Yard Line, 31 rows up from the field. The ebay auction just kicked off and wraps up Friday. Thanks Gary at Grewvia!

The video is a reminder of what many New Orleaneans are on the long road back from:



CLICK TICKETS TO BID ON EBAY: Jacquimo's funky dining establishment is kindly kicking in dinner for two, so come experience some football and make time for live local music as long as you're here.



The New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund is home, distributing instruments and catching up with loved ones for the holidays. Here are photos from the last 24 hours to let you know how the city, its music, the food and culture can embrace you:

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Evenings at Snake & Jake's Christmas Club Lounge, voted Sexiest Bar in America by Details Magazine, it's lit only by flattering Christmas lights all year long. This is your bartender, Miss Elaine. Snake's is the bar of choice for Anthony Bourdain, and Bourdain knows bars.


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The French Quarter is never not beautiful.


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The Lights. Red Light Districts, Green Light Districts, if you've got a light, we've got a district.


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Lucky Dogs. Or as the vendor was shouting, 'Genuine Katrina Hot Dogs!' It didn't sound appetizing but drew an interested crowd.


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Hotel Monteleone's Carousel Bar. It's a Bar. It's a Ride. You drink and slowly spin around the room, which enchanted Tennessee Williams and Truman Capote enough to make it into their literary work.


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Chef Paul Prudhomme blackened some of the first seafood, and is still creating masterpieces at K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen.


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Back at Snake's, Santanista Offers You His Protection.


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You never know who will show up. This is guitar hero Jimmy Robinson of Twangorama, singer/songwriter Susan Cowsill, and a Cajun Santa at Carrolton Station.


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A Hip Daily Newspaper. New Orleans Times Picayune's nola.com selection for photo of the day isn't a cute kid holding a puppy under the tree. It's the Christmas Club Lounge.


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The Latter Public Library on historic St. Charles Avenue hosted an Irwin Mayfield benefit with teen sensation Amanda Shaw, free and open to the public. Preservance Hall will be completed in 08, adding an expanded jazz district to our National Park System.


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Unlimited Opportunities to Do Good. This is the tent village under the interstate, as thousands of residents are now homeless. One of many shelters just outside the city houses dozens of families and half the residents are children. Their wish lists are modest, and Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have just held a press conference on the condition of displaced children.


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More Ways to Help. Carnival Season, Festival Season, Midsummer Mardi Gras - each is a good reason to gear up at the French Quarter Save NOLA Shop. Merchandise benefits nonprofits including the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund, Global Green and Make it Right. So come down and shop, gut, build, tip, spend, dance, eat and live.



Green Shirt and Tiny Carbon Footprint

The New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund is a green Fund with green gear, if that's your color.

We don't fly to benefits - our donations are more likely to come from lemonade stands or neighborhood fairs. The Fund prints as little as possible, works by energy efficient light and has never mailed out glossy brochures to solicit donors.

Dr. John told Entertainment Weekly that "Small organizations -- they've done more than these big organizations with a lot of money. Everything is f---ed up with the politicians and all. There's nobody taking care of business but the people.''

MySpace has nominated NOMRF twice for its Community Building Impact Award, and we're waiting to see if the third time's the charm.

One amazing supporter is Jake, who has again collected 500 toys to distribute including BluzKat books. Jake is 11 and lost everything to Katrina but still works to help kids who have it worse, which shows the emerging spirit of New Orleans.

Right before he reserved the right to run for president someday, Jake said in a speech at Jackson Square on the anniversary of 8/29: "We're not Katrina victims. We're Katrina survivors."

Thanks again to Dennis Procopio for the popular Fleur de Mains image above (ONLINE SHOP) - it perfectly represents the city's renewal. There's still time for standard shipping gifts to arrive before the holidays if you've got stockings to stuff.


New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund Has Been There, Done That, Sells the Tee Shirt

Two thirds of America is wary of where their New Orleans charity donations have gone, according to a new UNO survey, so this is some basic information on what the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund has done during last two years:

None of your Tax Dollars have gone into the funding of this nonprofit.

Our staff has never bought airline tickets to attend a benefit. We rarely even get to drive to them. Amazing volunteer efforts have led to events around the world, and the Fund distributes those proceeds to hundreds of displaced musicians.

NOMRF is a very green charity. We have never mailed out glossy brochures to solicit donors, but have asked musician friends to support us. Thanks to founder Jeff Beninato's dB's background, those friends include Wilco and REM. We're also blessed to have new musician friends like Dr. John and Jake, who has again collected 500 toys to distribute including BluzKat books. Jake is 11 and lost everything to Katrina, which shows the indominable spirit of New Orleans.

After starting NOMRF while being displaced, we learned it does not take renting an office to mail checks to displaced musicians. Our volunteer tech support team created the database and our staff of two screens applications. Volunteer publicist Urban Panda helps spread the word, and a team of volunteer accountants keep our corporate filings in order. Volunteer attorneys helped process the title of the donated New Birth Brass band, which sadly was just stolen.

Our Fund focuses on direct relief to professional musicians who are displaced because of Hurricane Katrina, not on event production or referrals. This is how we've stretched over a quarter million in individual donations as far as it could go. MySpace has nominated NOMRF twice for its prestigious Community Building Impact Award, and we're waiting to see if the third time's the charm.

The new Saving NOLA Store in downtown New Orleans (First floor, Jax Brewery) has started selling gear to benefit NOMRF. Last year they raised enough to build a Habitat for Humanity home, so our nonprofit is in good company with Drew Dat, Make it Right, Musicians Village and Global Green merchandise.

Speaking of merch, New Orleans artist Dennis Procopio has just donated his Fleur de Mains image (click tee shirt above to browse), and it perfectly represents the city's renewal. There are two days left for standard shipping gifts to arrive before the holidays. Donations have naturally slowed down as public awareness subsides, so if you like how NOMRF rolls, renewed support would be very, very welcome.


Brass Band Van Donated And Gone Again

When Cayetano (Tanio) Hingle applied for transportation from the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund, a family in Baton Rouge had just decided to donate their used minivan so the timing was perfect.

The family gave the brass and drummer their Ford Winstar through NOMRF, and it helped get him to gigs in the French Quarter from his post-Katrina location an hour outside of the city. It also helped transport his two children where they needed to go. On Sunday, the van was stolen from in front of his home.

It was hard enough for our small, grass roots nonprofit to be able to provide a van to a brass band drummer. Doing it twice is going to be daunting. If you're shooting for that warm holiday feeling, skip to the next blog.

"With the music, we're getting by but you know it's the housing and paying the bills that's real, real hard right now," Tanio said about the current economic climate.

Traditional brass bands survive on French Quarter tourism, which is down 40 percent at last estimate, and locals are supporting the music scene as well as they can given their ongoing Road Home challenges.

Tanio's New Birth Brass Band recently lost founding member Kerwin James. After suffering a stroke, Kerwin was in a coma for months out of state. He never was able to move back permanently. At his memorial second line in New Orleans, brass band musicians were arrested for marching without a permit and disturbing the peace.

There are positive stories like 11 year old friend Jake who lost everything to Katrina but still collects toys for his fellow young musicians. As he says, "We're not Katrina victims, we're Katrina survivors."

But overall the economic condition is desperate on this third post-disaster holiday season. Our Fund has been able to send out hundreds of grants, and has helped out with housing, transportation and instruments. Friends like Dr. John, the dB's (Jeff's former band), REM, Ian Hunter and many others provide benefit download tunes and moral support, since it takes someone in the public eye to keep this ball in the air. Case in point, Brad Pitt with his pink houses on Larry King tonight.

Even with all that help, awareness is rapidly dying down. Two steps forward and one step back is the best description for many in the Crescent City right now. Leah Chase, Jr.'s first FEMA trailer was stolen from the front of the historic restaurant Dooky Chase's. It was home away from home for Martin Luther King, Jr. and Freedom Fighters.

Leah sang a stunning "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans" at our first Anti-Versary Commemoration, and sings The Kindness of Strangers Has Been My Salvation in Harry Shearer's MyDamnChannel Crescent City Stories linked below.

New Orleans musicians are some of the strongest people you'll ever met. The hardest part of interviewing many of them is knowing it's an uphill climb. Musician Timothea Beckerman made it to the Northeast and used to call to talk about a film score she hoped to finish. "I've been an independent woman all my life and I want to continue it. But you can't if you have 10 dozen worries on your mind. I'm homesick like everybody else, but I can't go home. I've got to stay inside. And I don't have portable oxygen anyway."

We tried to reassure her, but she died in 2006 at the age of 55. We are losing too many from the birthplace of jazz. On the surface the causes are medical, but it's important to factor in the heartbreak of waiting too long to come home. It is still possible to help these musicians any way you choose. Just please help them soon.

(Write the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund (nomrf.org) if you have a good used van you're tired of.)

Harry Shearer's My Damn Channel Crescent City Stories:


Santa Looks for Louie - Reposting for New Orleans

This is a post from Last December, and NOMRF Founder Jeff Beninato's Santa Looks for Louie illustration is from last year, too. The saddest part of the post is that Freddie "Shep" Sheppard never did make it home from Phoenix. He died not long after the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund benefit.

It's strange to revisit a post from last year. Since then, more Road Home Grants have gone out, but not enough. More tourists are back, but not enough. More assistance is available to musicians, but not enough. Our grass roots Foundation is doing what it can thanks to music lovers who still care enough to donate.

Thank you for that.


(Reprinted From December, 2006)

Last night a New Orleans musician friend got so disgusted after a disappointing gig he threw his suit in the garbage. We can't disclose his name, or at future shows fans would be wondering if he's wearing the garbage suit.

His wife fished it out before any real damage was done, but it's an example of the lids about to blow for many musicians struggling to get by during the holidays.

Promises dangle but are not fulfilled. Most international news agencies have closed their local bureaus. The Road Home Program has now distributed a whopping 65 grants out of 88,000 applicants. Many national assistance groups have moved away from giving grants and have moved on to raising awareness.

You can't eat awareness.

Some gigs are sparsely attended as 60 percent of evacuees (depending on which survey you give credence to) are still not back and a third of the returnees are considering moving away. It's almost as if the (_________) is trying to (__________) the city -- insert theory of choice because there are too many to sort through and most of them are probably true.

Not exactly a party atmosphere if you go by the numbers, but the party is still lurking in New Orleans. We just got to town and in late December friends are already talking about Mardi Gras costumes, concerts, and carnival cd releases.

The musicians who have made it home are trying to hang in there until the world's biggest free party comes back to town. And their out-of-town brethren write us about wanting to come back home if rents start to drop.

A.J. Piron's was one of the many jazz greats who made his way from New Orleans to the north in the 1920s. When his band members got tired of the cold and the changes in lifestyle, they voted on whether to go back home.

Piron lost the vote and his band left Harlem in the heyday of jazz. New Orleans music has that kind of pull. And it hasn't thrown away its gig suit just yet.

To help keep the music rolling tonight in Boulder, his friends are hosting a NOmrf benefit for Freddie "Shep "Sheppard" of recent Studio 60 fame. Shep started playing music while still a junior high student in the late 1950s.

He bought his first saxophone coin by coin, with his mother who then worked as a maid, chipping in a dollar for every quarter he earned. The result was a $200 horn from Werlein's Music Store on Canal Street. "It was old and raggedy," he says, "but I didn't know it. It looked so good to me." Shep now lives in Phoenix, Arizona.

Since the year is winding down, we would like to pay tribute to legends we have lost recently including Timothea Beckerman who I wish I had met sooner, Warren Bell, Sr., Charlie Brent, Marshall Seahorn and Mike Frey, Jr. - the 28 year old bass player killed in the French Quarter on the way home from a gig.

All are gone too soon.


Doc Paulin, New Orleans Jazz Patriarch, Passes at 100

Doc Paulin, patriarch of the Paulin Family Band and traditional jazz legend, died this morning at 100. He moved to New Orleans in 1928, the same year St. James Infirmary was written.

Of Doc's 13 children, many were in the Paulin Brothers band and had been mentored by their father. Details on a memorial are pending, but his son, clarinetist Rickey Paulin, told the Times Picayune he hopes for a Gallier Hall gathering.

This summer, Geraldine Wyckoff of Louisiana Weekly described Doc Paulin's 100th birthday celebration. "Paulin married his wife Betty in 1949 and they raised 13 children in their modest Seventh Street home, which is now in the process of renovation. At the party, over 40 members of the Paulin clan surrounded the man of the hour who sat beaming in a wheelchair next to his lovely wife for a photo that would document the day. A deejay appropriately spun "Family Reunion."

Rest in Peace Doc Paulin. Our hearts go out to the family.


Impact Awards- New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund is Community Building

We're bonafide for a second time!  Vote for NOMRF as a MySpace Impact Awards finalist (click badge for Impact site), because the $10,000 grant will make a difference to displaced musicians.

You can vote every day, and it would be cool if you did. Thank you in advance for helping make this happen for New Orleans.


Second Chance! MySpace Nominates New Orleans Musicians

We're aware that you all voted like champs this summer, and that we were competing with a group 100,000 strong, but the MySpace Impact Awards have again nominated the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund, Inc. for Community Building. We deeply appreciate you doing anything you can to help us win.

The $10,000 grant the Fund receives will directly help New Orleans musicians where they are now. Thanks for your consideration.

(Click Icon Below to Vote)


After voting, a $5 PayPal Badge donation would be very much appreciated - it's our holiday fund drive, totally green since you'll never get a glossy brochure followup. Every little bit counts and it's how our grass roots nonprofit has stayed alive for two years now.

Finally, this is our new video featuring the late Barry Cowsill's "Kid" and REM's "South Central Rain". It kicks off with Barry jugging bubbles, a very Barry thing to do if you knew him. The New Wave Brass Band second lined at his memorial and our Fund was glad to be able to replace the band's instruments after the storm. Songs are available on our download at www.NOMRF.org.

Kid: The Legend of Barry Cowsill (With REM Track) by NOMRF.org

Add to My Profile | More Videos


Spoon and Sony Playstation Dig in to Help New Orleans

Fresh off the cover of Spin Magazine and Saturday Night Live, Spoon (click photo for NOMRF.org) will be featured at the Sony Playstation NOMRF Benefit at One Eyed Jacks on Oct. 27th after performing at the Sony Playstation Stage at Voodoo Music Experience, with the late night show to benefit the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund.

And NOMRF is looking forward to NOLAFest at Fat Harry's in New Orleans with Ingrid Lucia on Oct. 26th, with part of the drink proceeds to benefit the Fund. It wasn't long after Katrina when the Times Picayune's NOLA.com, having just returned to its building on Poydras, decided to host a party at Fat Harry's Bar and Grill on St. Charles and webcast it to the world, letting folks know that New Orleanians were back home to stay, says entertainment editor Keith Marszalek.

The night took on a whole new meaning shortly after Kermit Ruffins' first set when the N.O.P.D. was forced to shut down St. Charles Avenue due to the 1000+ locals who had come to hear the trumpeter's first set back in New Orleans. This year NOLA and Fat Harry's welcome back the St. Charles Avenue Streetcar, whose return to Uptown is just weeks away. Music will be provided by local vocalist Ingrid Lucia who's amassed an all-star lineup of area musicians ready to swing-out, New Orleans style.

NOMRF and some special guests are glad to be back this weekend, in the city that throws the greatest concerts in the world.

Keep watching for a new Save NOLA Store with merchandise to benefit Global Green, Habitat for Humanity and the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund. Every contribution and instrument donation has made a difference. We could not do any of this without your continued support.


Streetcars to Roll Soon After NOLA Fest Benefit on Friday

How does the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund love the Times Picayune's NOLA.com? Lots of ways. We love that at Fat Harry's NOLA Fest on Friday you can come hear Ingrid Lucia for FREE just before the streetcars begin to roll down Carrolton again. And we love that part of Friday's bar proceeds will help the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund keep helping musicians.

At this time last year, NOMRF was welcoming Liverpool's Joe Topping who walked across the country in support of our city's music, with the Voodoo Vixens and New Wave Brass Band on hand to welcome him.

At this time two years ago, Voodoo and NOLA Fest were the first-post Katrina signs of music in the city and friends who had made it home or never left called with dispatches from the stage.

For those of us still displaced from New Orleans, NOLA is the first place we look for weather updates to check on family and friends. And in reverse, NOLA lets the Fund post its own updates on Exiled on Main Street.

This year, as our hearts are heavy for the million of evacuees in California, it's time to go home again.



New Orleans Musicians Start Your Jingles - Eric Hill Nissan Offering Car

Time to name that tune. And start your engines.

The New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund is grateful to Eric Hill Nissan for offering local musicians the chance to win a new car fo a year in their Jingle Jam. The dealership is also collecting instruments for NOMRF to pass along to professional and student musicians.

Details are available at: (ehilljinglejam.com) and NOMRF.org.


New Orleans Musicians Benefit from MySpace and PayPal Project

Badges? The New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund Has Badges!!

We're thrilled to announce that the Impact Channel, PayPal and MySpace have chosen the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund as one of the charities to benefit from a brand new fund-raising badge. NOMRF is in good company with worthy causes including OxFam and One.org.

The PayPal contributions start with $5, because we believe that every dollar counts. As a green charity we have never sent out glossy brochures, so this is as close as our grass-roots fund will get to making a major impact for the musicians of New Orleans.

The Fund started by and for displaced musicians still rents no office space to help each donor dollar stretch further. Hundreds of grants have gone out thanks to supporters like Dr. John and REM, as well as caring individuals from around the world.

After two years of doing their best to rebuild their lives, many musicians are still in Houston, Dallas or much further away. And we're losing them too soon. Your donation can make a direct difference in the life of a displaced New Orleans musician.

Please email questions or comments on your PayPal Badge experience and we'll forward the feedback to MySpace. Thanks, as always, for supporting the music.

- The New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund


In Which a Disaster is Swallowed Whole and Set to Music

John Swenson of New Orleans magazine Offbeat writes that "There has been plenty of rhetoric about New Orleans music post-Katrina, but just as 9-11 didn't produce a wellspring of inspired popular music, Katrina has failed to inspire the bumper crop of musical observations that many predicted. There have been a few good songs written about the event and its aftermath to be sure, but the disaster is too large scale to be swallowed whole in a song."

He's right about 9-11, we couldn't find a single song, but not only does the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund's benefit download - Re-Define 8/29 - offer 20 original download songs about the loss, it has been given a four star review in Rolling Stone Magazine and met with fanfare from international music lovers.

In these songs curated by NOMRF Chairman Jeff Beninato formerly of the dB's, the disaster is not only swallowed, it is digested and translated from some of the best artists around. Song samples are available on the page as well, so you'll be the kind of informed consumer musicians depend on. REM, Craig Klein, Ewin McCain, The Subdudes, Dr. John (pictured above) – you're invited to log on and see what they've come up with regarding New Orleans recovery.

Swenson goes on to review music by the wonderful Anders Osborne, who has played NOMRF benefits around the country that help us help other displaced musicians. He concludes that, "The spectral presence of the dead in our lives, beckoning mutely for us to join them in whatever afterlife they inhabit while they haunt us in this one, is one of the uneasy legacies of Katrina, one which mocks the empty bravado of recovery rhetoric suggested by the song's title."

Empty bravado of recovery rhetoric indeed, without support from music lovers around the world. You're what we depend on.



Couldn't Hear Nobody Pray

“I couldn’t hear nobody pray.

I couldn’t hear nobody pray.

Way down yonder and by myself, I couldn’t hear nobody pray.”

When George French, Deacon John and Irma Thomas are in the choir and your priest can sing a song like that, you must have been living right. Willie Tee’s tribute yesterday at Our Lady Star of the Sea was a memorial to a loving, funny and brilliant New Orleans legend.

Something that impressed me was how much Rev. Tony Richard talked about the heartbreak of being displaced, as Willie Tee had been, and coming home, as some of the congregation has managed to do.

Coming from 12 hours away, nobody talks about it enough for me. It was so inspirational I found myself remembering the Pentecostal roots of a religious childhood. We were more likely to be in a rickety building in the next town than a brick and mortar church. You had to drive 20 miles to find poor people but my dad managed to find them and build a modest church. Thankfully lighting passed us over, since Pentecostals have an affinity for aluminum structures.

We sang a small, sad version of “I’ll Fly Away” this spring - my husband, by brothers and myself. I remember insisting Dad would have wanted a jazz funeral. If he’d ever seen one I’m sure he would have, but the grieving don’t think straight and it wasn’t practical to fly a brass band up to our little town.

Yesterday, the maidens in Our Lady Star of the Sea floated above us in their dreamlike mural, The Dance of Innocence, and the priest described how he snuck back into the city to check on his church two years ago. He admitted to fibbing as monitors at the checkpoints asked where he was headed. “To the suburbs.” Then he talked about how Willie Tee’s brother Earl passed away a month ago, and he never expected to lose Willie so soon.

During the service, the priest played a recording of a piano solo Willie wrote for his grandson. You know how there’s a certain curve an instrumental can take, right after the verse but before the chorus when the hook can break your heart? This whole song was like that. If I were a music reviewer this would be a more lucid description, but it was right up there with what you’d hear if sunrise had a sound.

The crowd marched out to a second line of “I’ll Fly Away,” the way it’s supposed to be played. We saw some friends, paid our respects and watched the second line march on as the weather gathered toward Sunday’s storm. I grieve for this community’s loss of a man who I only know from his music and his tribute.

Based on that alone, he must have been living right.


Helping New Orleans With a Little Help From Our Friends

"Without a concerted effort by the city government to address their needs, there will continue to be a slow bleed of musicians to cities where they feel they will be more appreciated," writes Richard Webster of City Business in New Orleans

A concerted effort by the state and federal government is needed as well, especially since most of the slow bleed is going out of state and could use social services in their new towns as well.

The inimitable Scott Aiges, director of programs for the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation, "said four new festivals — the Crescent City Blues Festival, the Louisiana Cajun Zydeco Festival, the Congo Square Rhythm Festival and Fiesta Latina — have been created since Katrina to attract tourists and keep musicians employed." writes Webster. He adds that the Foundation has set aside $90,000 to help musicians clear their credit so they can apply for home mortgages. Some of these mortgages may be in the burgeoning Musicians Village which just broke ground on the Ellis Marsalis Educational Center.

Music education is a primary focus for Jazzfest, too. "One of its successes is a community partnership grant program that has set aside $350,000 for artistic and educational programs within the community," Webster says. All that and Crawfish Monica.

Legal aid is part of the package too. "Ashlye Keaton is the supervising attorney with the Entertainment Law Legal Assistance Project, a joint initiative of Tulane Law School, Tipitina's Foundation and the Arts Council of New Orleans. The law clinic started in January 2005, has counseled more than 200 clients and boasts a case resolution rate of 85 percent."

Our New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund hearts friends like Scott, Ashlye, WWOZ's Bob French in his new Musicians Village home, Eric at the Carrolton Station Foundation, Marc at Tipitina's Foundation and a town full of musician / philanthropists including the Marsalis family, Dr. John and Craig Klein - all true friends of New Orleans music.

It takes a village and we're happy to be the grass roots NOMRF village people.

Moment of Truth - The Passing of Willie Tee

“This is the moment of truth and you know it. We got to think about out kids and what’s coming behind them. I don’t know what this world is coming to. But we’ve got to straighten it out, we’ve got to face the truth.”

Moment of Truth
- Willie Tee

Wardell Quezergue, Willie Tee and Chief Danny Montana

We will always associate Willie Tee with staying out too late over Jazzfest. Dr. John brought froglegs and blue catfish roe back from the bayou, and Jaeger’s cooked it all up in a feast of Roman proportions. In fact, we're in trouble with Wardell Quezergue for mentioning how many froglegs he put away in one sitting. To clear that up, he’s no glutton, just a man who loves seafood very, very much.

After dinner we told Wardell there was a Mardi Gras Indian summit at Rosie’s Jazz Hall. I was already fading, but he asked to come and you don’t keep Wardell from the Indians. We got to the show and there was Willie Tee to the left of the stage, the musical architect of The Wild Magnolias and producer of “They Call Us Wild,” which Peter Watrous of The New York Times called “one of the funkiest albums ever.” He wrote “Smoke My Peace Pipe”, so that sounds about right. Willie Tee has passed away at 63, and his memorial is Saturday.

That night at Rosie’s, Wardell and Willie Tee sat at the side of the stage for an hour, catching up and greeting Mardi Gras Indians including Danny Montana, Big Chief Tootie’s son. Wardell produced one of Willie Tee’s first singles, the top 20 hit “Teasin You.” He describes the sessions. “Willie Tee was a a professional in all respects. A nice fellow to work with - very cooperative even at that young age. No problems at all on the set.” Willie was a teenager at the time.

I asked who played on the session and Wardell said it was Smokey Johnson on drums, George Davis on guitar, George French bass, Willie Tee on piano and a local horn section with Carl Blouin baritone sax. “All younger than me. It was cut at Cosimo’s (Matassa) studio.”

That’s the beautiful thing about New Orleans music. You can pick up the phone and call a living encyclopedia.

Whether or not you’ve heard of their songs, New Orleans musicians are perpetually too cool for school. Alex Chilton ended up here, and got an A- from Robert Christgau for his cover of Willie Tee’s “Thank You John.” Wilson Turbinton (Willie Tee) songs have been sampled by rappers like P Diddy, for decades.

He released his first full album with the production company of Cannonball Adderly and his brother. A creator of early funk, Willie Tee influenced Joe Zawinul of Weather Report, and wrote “Can It Be Done” for the band. Joe died last week on the same day as Willie Tee. Weather Report’s fretless bass pioneer Jaco Pastorius passed decades before, and the band is known for the funk classic, ”Heavy Weather.” That album influenced my husband to pop the frets off his bass as a kid playing on Bourbon Street with Fats Domino’s sons.

Willie Tee also recorded “Brothers for Life,” with his brother Earl Turbinton who passed last month. Earl was known as the African Cowboy, a force of nature on the saxophone. Both grew up in the Calliope projects, near the Neville brothers. All of them found a way out with music.

New Orleans music is a family affair. Willie Tee had 39 years of marriage to his credit and a gifted musician as his daughter. He had a long-term gig at Sweet Lorraine’s but after 8/29/5, ended up an artist in residence at Princeton, performing and directing two bands. He also worked on “Sing Me Back Home” with the wonderful Leo Sacks. In November of 05, Willie Tee was inducted into the Carolina Beach Music Awards Hall of Fame and sang Teasing You for the crowd, along with his other hits.

He has also been recognized by the Governor of Louisiana for his contribution to Mardi Gras Indian music, and any entity who recognized these legends while they are still with us is thinking right. In 2002 he played for hours for London’s Music CafĂ©. Europe is still showing love to our legends and it’s impossible to estimate what that does for their spirit.

In 2004, Willie Tee was a featured guest on Dr. John's grammy-winning, N’Awlinz: Dis Dat or d’Udder. Wardell was also part of that project, and Dr. John replaced Wardell’s Grammy certificate lost to the levee break with his own at the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund benefit for Wardell the following year. That’s about as full circle as it gets, except for the fact that Willie Tee and his brother are gone. And Willie Tee never made it home from Baton rouge.

With each musical loss, the world is in for some heavy weather.

“There is a chance that one day this world will be at peace. I truly hope that you and I will be around. There are so many beautiful places that are just waiting to be found. And if our kids are ever to learn to love, I sincerely wish that we will be the ones to turn all the hatred off. This world of ours is put here for every man to please, but selfish motivations have caused a lot of misery. So I hope that I can in some way touch and help someone in need. And cause a chain reaction. Freedom love and peace is all we’ll ever need.
- “Moment of Truth”
Willie Tee


I Remember the Gumbo Krewe

We remember the gumbo krewe.

They brought pots of food up from Louisiana after the planes flew into the Twin Towers, because food is one way New Orleaneans show their love. There was a collection to purchase a firetruck for the first responders, and our hearts went out to them.

After 8/29, their hearts went out to us. A group of poets so esteemed it is nerve wracking even sending them an email came together this spring for a New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund benefit in New York (photo above).

In the last two years, the support has not stopped flowing back and forth between our two cities, and I commemorate their tragic anniversary today as they have honored ours.

Two coastal, vulnerable and culturally irreplacable cities. There is no learning curve on describing our loss to one another.

"We never felt more connected as a country," is Oprah's comment on her 9/11 Anniversary special. On 8/29, I never felt more disconnected as a person.

My husband's mother, up north for the first time in her life after two years without a permanent home, is heartbreaking to walk with through an antique store. It's a day of, "Maw had one of these." or "We lost this set at the bottom of the locker."

Just try not talking with a New Orleanean in a store. It's virtually impossible. She'll brightly wave a tapestry at a clerk and say, "I lost one of these in the city." For Miss Gloria, there is still only one city.

Oprah said she feels 9/11 should be a national holiday of remembering the tragic day that the country came together.

Not to get all Kid Rock and Tommy Lee at the Video Music Awards, but I feel that 8/29 should also eventually be officially recognized.

It's the day the country, for so many of us, split in two.


Two Years Ago Today: Jazz Musicians Ask if Their Scene Will Survive

These are the true Anniversary stories from two years ago, when we first began questioning who would be able to come back and under what conditions. Jazzfest rolls on, the Indians still march, and many New Orleans musicians still live in Texas.

Best quote? Mr. Boudreaux, now safe with his daughter in Mesquite, Tex., stayed put through the storm at his house in the Uptown neighborhood; when he left last week, he said, the water was waist-high. He chuckled when asked if the Mardi Gras Indian tradition could survive in exile. "I don't know of any other Mardi Gras outside of New Orleans," he said.

Jazz Musicians Ask if Their Scene Will Survive

The New York Times
Published: September 8, 2005

New Orleans is a jazz town, but also a funk town, a brass-band town, a hip-hop town and a jam-band town. It has international jazz musicians and hip-hop superstars, but also a true, subsistence-level street culture. Much of its music is tied to geography and neighborhoods, and crowds.

All that was incontrovertibly true until a week ago Monday. Now the future for brass bands and Mardi Gras Indians, to cite two examples, looks particularly bleak if their neighborhoods are destroyed by flooding, and bleaker still with the prospect of no new tourists coming to town soon to infuse their traditions with new money. Although the full extent of damage is still unknown, there is little doubt that it has been severe - to families, to instruments, to historical records, to clubs, to costumes. "Who knows if there exists a Mardi Gras Indian costume anymore in New Orleans?" wondered Don Marshall, director of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival Foundation.

"A lot of the great musicians came right out of the Treme neighborhood and the Lower Ninth Ward," said the trumpeter Kermit Ruffins, temporarily speaking in the past tense, by phone from Houston yesterday. Mr. Ruffins, one of the most popular jazz musicians in New Orleans, made his name there partly through his regular Thursday-night gig over the last 12 years at Vaughan's, a bar in the Bywater neighborhood, where red beans and rice were served at midnight. Now Vaughn's may be destroyed, and so may his new house, which is not too far from the bar.

On Saturday evening Mr. Ruffins flew back to New Orleans from a gig in San Diego, having heard the first of the dire storm warnings. He stopped at a lumberyard to buy wood planks, boarded up 25 windows on his house, then went bar-hopping and joked with his friends that where they were standing might be under water the next day.

The next morning he fled to Baton Rouge with his family, and now he is in Houston, about to settle into apartments, along with more than 30 relatives. He is being offered plenty of work in Houston, and is already thinking ahead to what he calls "the new New Orleans."

"I think the city is going to wind up being a smaller area," he said. "They'll have to build some super levees.

"I think this will never happen again once they get finished," Mr. Ruffins added. "We're going to get those musicians back, the brass bands, the jazz funerals, everything."

Brass bands function through the year - not only through the annual Jazzfest, where many outsiders see them, and jazz funerals, but at the approximately 55 social aid and pleasure clubs, each of which holds a parade once a year. It is an intensely local culture, and has been thriving in recent years. Brass-band music, funky and hard-hitting, can easily be transformed from the neighborhood social to a club gig; brass bands like Rebirth, Dirty Dozen and the Soul Rebels have done well by touring as commercial entities. Members of Stooges Brass Band have ended up in Atlanta, and of Li'l Rascals in Houston; there could be a significant brass-band diaspora before musicians find a way to get home to New Orleans. (Rebirth's Web site, www.rebirthbrassband.com, has been keeping a count of brass-band musicians who have been heard from.)

The Mardi Gras Indian tradition is more fragile. Monk Boudreaux is chief of the Golden Eagles, one of the 40 or so secretive Mardi Gras tribes, who are known not just for their flamboyant feathered costumes but for their competitive parades through neighborhoods at Mardi Gras time. (Mardi Gras Indians are not American Indians but New Orleanians from the city's working-class black neighborhoods.) Mr. Boudreaux, now safe with his daughter in Mesquite, Tex., stayed put through the storm at his house in the Uptown neighborhood; when he left last week, he said, the water was waist-high. He chuckled when asked if the Mardi Gras Indian tradition could survive in exile. "I don't know of any other Mardi Gras outside of New Orleans," he said.

These days a city is often considered a jazz town to the extent that its resident musicians have international careers. The bulk of New Orleans jazz musicians have shown a knack for staying local. (Twenty or so in the last two decades, including several Marsalises, are obvious exceptions.)

But as everyone knows, jazz is crucial to New Orleans, and New Orleans was crucial in combining jazz's constituent parts, its Spanish, French, Caribbean and West African influences. The fact that so many musicians are related to one or another of the city's great music families - Lastie, Brunious, Neville, Jordan, Marsalis - still gives much of the music scene a built-in sense of nobility. "Whereas New York has a jazz industry," said Quint Davis, director of Jazzfest, "New Orleans has a jazz culture." (Speaking of Jazzfest, Mr. Davis was not ready to discuss whether there will be a festival next April. "First I'm dealing with the lives and subsistence of the people who produce it," he said.)

And most jazz in New Orleans has a directness about it. "Everyone isn't searching for the hottest, newest lick," said Maurice Brown, a young trumpeter from Chicago who had been rising through the ranks of the New Orleans jazz scene for the last four years before the storm took his house and car. "People are trying to stay true to the melody."

Gregory Davis, the trumpeter and vocalist for the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, one of the city's most successful groups, said the typical New Orleans musician was vulnerable because of how he lives and works. (Mr. Davis's house is in the Gentilly neighborhood; he spoke last week from his brother's home in Dallas.)

"A lot of these guys who are playing out there in the clubs are not home owners," he said. "They're going to be at the mercy of the owners of those properties. For some of them, playing in the clubs was the only means of earning any money. If those musicians come back and don't have an affordable home, that's a big blow."

Louis Edwards, a New Orleans novelist and an associate producer of the Jazz and Heritage Festival, said, "No other city is so equipped to deal with this." A French Quarter resident, Mr. Edwards was taking refuge last week at his mother's house in Lake Charles, La.

"Think of the jazz funeral," he said. "In New Orleans we respond to the concept of following tragedy with joy. That's a powerful philosophy to have as the underpinning of your culture."

In the meantime, Mr. Boudreaux, chief of the Golden Eagles, has a feeling his own Mardi Gras Indian costume is intact. He was careful to put it in a dry place before he left home. "I just need to get home and get that Indian suit from on top of that closet," he said.


Outrageous and Kinky in New Orleans

Rev. Goat Carson holds up his and Kinky Friedman's Texas Monthly article during the Krewe of O.A.K.'s Midsummer Mardi Gras. Last week I missed his Shallow Graves signing, as every New Orleans obligation seems to end in a series of detours, but wish Goat and Kinky well on their upcoming book tour.

O.A.K., appropriately enough, stands for Outrageous and Kinky.

Goat's the first person who put me up in a cot on my first visit to New Orleans, and he's been staying on and off at Kinky's ranch, Levon Helms' cabin and points unknown ever since evacuating.

In a perfect example of the chaos in communicating two summers ago, when Kinky told Rev. Goat there were 24 greyhounds coming to the rescue ranch, he thought that meant a convoy of Greyhound Buses instead of dogs and wanted to round up riders.

Goat's "Lost You In the Waterfall" is one of the poignant tunes on the (DOWNLOADS)

Click on his image below for our photo page with more from the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund's Carrolton Station Download Celebration, Midsummer Mardi Gras, Jake's 8/29 Speech, the Fords' Open House with food from Bacco, and a donated brass band van.


Fun REM Facts: New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund and the Twisted Kites

From The Production Side - Acostill

The Athens, GA natives will release a live album from their recent Dublin performances on October 16 and they just donated a track for the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund. ((DOWNLOADS)

The band made their first public performance in April of 1980 at a friend’s birthday party.

Before settling on R.E.M., the band considered the names Twisted Kites and Can of Piss.

In May of 1980 R.E.M. headlined their first show at Tyrone’s Club in Athens, GA.

The band open up for The Police in Atlanta in December, 1980.

By April of 1981 they have recorded their first demo.

May, 1982 their debut EP, Chronic Town, is released. Around this time, the band also signs with I.R.S. Records.

R.E.M.’s first full debut, Murmur, is released in April, 1983.

In 1983, the band opens up The Police at Shea Stadium and make their national televsion debut on The Late Show With David Letterman.

Reckoning, the band’s second album, is released on April 16, 1984.

In 1985 the band’s “Preconstruction” college tour previewed songs from their third album, Fables of the Reconstruction.

1986’s Lifes Rich Pageant extended to a wider audience.

1987 was a big year for R.E.M.; they began a U.S. tour in January, a compilation of rarities, Dead Letter Office, is released, as well as, their breakthrough album document·

“The One I Love” reaches #9 on the Billboard charts by December of 1987.

R.E.M. signs with Warner Bros. in June of 1988.

I.R.S. releases the compilation Eponymous in 1988.

Green, the band’s 1988 debut with Warner Bros., would go on to double platinum status.

The single “Shiny Happy People” features Kate Pierson of the B-52’s.
R.E.M. releases their eighth studio album, Automatic for the People on October 6, 1992.

Former Led Zeppelin bassist, John Paul Jones, composed the string arrangements for “Drive”, “The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite”, “Everybody Hurts” and “Nightswimming”.

In the Kurt Cobain biography, Heavier Than Heaven, it states that Cobain was listening to Automatic for the People before his suicide.
Monster released on September 27, 1994.

“Let Me In” was written about Kurt Cobain, in fact, Cobain;s guitar (a Fender Jag-Stang) was given to Peter Buck and used on this song. The guitar can also be seen in the “What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?” video.

In 1995 R.E.M. embarks on their first tour in six years.

R.E.M. re-signs with Warner Bros. for a reported $80 million contract in 1996.

New Adventues in Hi-Fi is released on September 10, 1986.

Patti Smith appears on the single “E-Bow the Letter”.

Drummer Bill Berry leaves the band in October of 1997.

1998’s Up was the first album without Bill Berry and the first album to come with lyrics.

Up featured drummer Barrett Martin from the Screaming Trees and Beck’s touring drummer Joey Waronker.

The band contributes “The Great Beyond” and wrote the instrumental score for the Andy Kaufman biopic Man on the Moon.

Reveal is released on May 15, 2001.

Warner Bros. releases In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988-2003 in October of 2003.

Around the Sun is released on October 5, 2004.

R.E.M. is part of the Vote for Change Tour, touring with Bright Eyes, John Fogerty and Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band.

2005 marked the band’s first full length world tour in ten years.

In 2006 And I Feel Fine…The Best of the I.R.S. Years 1982-1987 is released.

On March 12, 2007 the band is inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by Eddie Vedder.

The band is currently working on their fourteenth album. (NOMRF Note: to be released in October)


Unleash Your Inner Rock Critic For New Orleans

Nice news for New Orleans - in an article by Steve Hochman of the L.A. Times, the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund’s ReDefine 8/29 Download track “Poor Man’s Paradise” is picked as one of the best post-Katrina songs about social change by New Orleans critic Alex Rawls.

Hochman writes that Rawls has listened to Katrina songs and finds “the vast majority well-meaning . . . but, in his view, missing the mark.” But Rawls does enjoy “"Poor Man's Paradise," the title track of a new album by local roots-rocker Johnny Sansone.”

Rawls said, "The ones that don't work try to dramatize it, and it was already incomprehensible and dramatic beyond belief. Trying to frame Katrina in poetic language makes the language look poor. Trying to fit a hurricane in the rhyme scheme makes the whole experience seem small. These songs, the best of them, catch the details of how someone's life changed."

Here’s your chance to unleash your inner rock critic for $19.29 (DOWNLOADS). The New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund has selected 20 Katrina-related songs by local and international artists, and proceeds benefit our city’s displaced musicians.

Rolling Stone Magazine’s David Fricke gave the ReDefine 8/29 download four stars as “topically acute mp3s by Crescent City stars and out-of-town friends. Kaiser Chiefs donate "Out of My Depth, a fine new stomp that sounds like a pissed-off Badfinger, and Doctor John is among the locals singing for his neighbors. Ian Hunter's "How's Your House" comes in video form; grim newsreels of the devastation that show why projects like this are still necessary, two years after the flood.

Let us know which songs you like, and let your local radio station know, too. From REM’s new live Dublin track of “South Central Rain” to James Andrews “Sixth Ward Soul,” every style of music is represented, and many of the tracks are exclusive to NOMRF.

We have Ian Hunter; the late Barry Cowsill; Dr. John; The Kaiser Chiefs; The Subdudes; Bryan Lee; Edwin McCain and Maia Sharp; Backyard Tire Fire; Craig Klein; the dB's; Chicago Farmer; Susan Cowsill; James Andrews; The Rev. Goat Carson; John Rankin; Beatin Path; Spencer Bohren; and Joe Topping.

These songs are helping spread the story of the largest cultural diaspora since the dust bowl.

WWOZ’s David Freedman explains in the Hochman article, “ "People live the music." Key, he adds, is that many people are gone. “We're still missing 200,000, minimum. It's hard for people to really grasp how important this neighborhood business is in the city of New Orleans. Every high school marching band has its own sound and rhythms. You can tell where Mardi Gras Indians come from if you have the knowledge of the geography that's expressed in their chants.

“The problem is we don't have neighborhoods.” ”


A Good New Orleans Note to Come Home To

Music is an irreplacable part of of New Orleans and depending on which Anniversary headline you read last week, the music is dying or it’s coming back better than ever. As could only happen in New Orleans, both are true.

First are the statistics. The local musicians union says New Orleans housed more than 3,000 musicians before Katrina, and about 1,800 are back. Some estimates are twice as high, depending on who you consider a full time musician, but there are no official tallies from the city. And “coming back” is an amorphous term among musicians who worked full time before the storm.

The New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund just donated a van to help New Birth Brass Band’s Tanio Hingle out with transportation. He drives in for gigs, but is a commuting musician home?

NOMRF also offers an apartment for musicians like Jerome Jones of the Hot 8 who lives too far away to drive home after gigs. But is a musician home when he stays in a charity apartment while his family still lives out of state?

For those who did come back over the last two years, we’ve noticed a boomerang effect. Musicians like Dave Malone of The Radiators have come home only to have to leave again. It stands to reason that a town barely over half its original size can only support half as many musicians, but it hurts to be one of them.

In a New York Journal News article he says, "I really, really, really, really applaud musicians and others from there who are able to say: 'Oh yeah, we're coming back,' with this completely annoying, glass-half-full attitude," says Malone. "I'm bitter. I'm really heartbroken, and I'm bitter about it. I never thought in a million years I'd ever say the sentence, 'I don't live in New Orleans anymore.'”

The article concludes with Malone explaining why the groove of New Orleans is unlike anywhere else. "(There) is not only the ability, but the likelihood, of any person in the city to throw a party or have a parade at the drop of a hat," says Malone. "It's really true. It's like, 'Oh my god, the world's (screwed) up.' Pardon my French. 'Let's have a parade.' It's really probably the most laid-back city, certainly in the country, maybe in the world. It's not like any other U.S. city. It's more like kind of a Caribbean town with U.S. laws. ...There's something about the town. All of that adds to this laid back kind of feeling. I think that somehow transfers somehow into the rhythmic feel of the music."

Magdalene Kellett of the Columbia City Paper describes this rhythm in “Crescent City Rising”:

For generations, New Orleans has captivated writers, musicians, artists and everyday people all over the world with its rhythm, its beat, the music floating out of every barroom door. Or maybe it’s the smell of hibiscus and night blooming Jasmine in the early mornings on Barracks Street, the romance of a history drenched in pirates, kings and blood. It’s the sexy laissez faire attitude. It’s the coffee. It’s the way people pass you on the street and say “alright” or the way you get called “baby.” It is everything that strikes a note in the heart of people when they visit The City that Care Forgot.

Hometown hero Harry Shearer recently explained why he stays. "I had no damage to my home and I felt that when you love a city, you don't walk away from it at a time when it's battered and bruised; you help to bring it back to good shape."

That’s a good note to come home to.


Slideshow: ReDefine 8/29 and a Brass Band Van

The fastest way to describe the last week in New Orleans is with a slideshow. Our New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund Download Celebration at the Station, Mike Mills of REM summoning the Rolling Elvi, Krewe of Oak's Same Old Thong and Dance, ReDefine 8/29 Open House and Jake's Speech in Jackson Square.

And most exciting of all, NOMRF was able to donate a used van to a brass band leader in need of transportation.

So put on your favorite ReDefine 8/29 (DOWNLOADS) tune for 99 cents and watch the slideshow to keep up with our Fund. And keep bidding on that (Cowbell)!

Thank You. Thank You Very Much!

(New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund Anti-Versary Slideshow)


American Idol has a Fever and the Only Perscription is More Cowbell!

American Idol Taylor Hicks has a fever and the only RX is more cowbell. He's graciously signed the cowbell he used on this year's tour, and a tee shirt with the cowbell phrase above to benefit the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund. Click on the classic SNL cowbell studio shot for a link to the ebay auction.  Bidding is already hopping, and BluzKat  is coordinating the benefit.

So cure that fever and play along to this year's American Idol contestants with your very own Taylor Hicks-signed cowbell and tee shirt.



The Kids are Alright - Jake Speaks in Jackson Square

Jake's ReDefine 8/29 Speech - New Orleans Kids Helping Kids

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This is Jake Lewis, an 11-year-old who wrote this speech Tuesday night and delivered it on Wednesday in front of St. Louis Cathedral. Disregard the buses going by, the ups and downs of the amp and the wind blowing in before yesterday's torrential rain.

Jake is one of the best reminders that the city's children have a better grasp on what needs to be done than any armchair adviser.

He collects toys for kids in children's hospitals. He's boycotting Lionel Trains because they didn't replace his train set after Katrina and he had a money back guarantee. And he reserves the right to run for office in 20 years.

He just sent me a copy of the speech:

Hello Fellow New Orleanians!
Thank you!

" all who question the future of the Crescent City need to know there is no way to imagine America without New Orleans, and this great city will rise again." Those were the words of President Bush as he spoke to the nation Sept 2005. While many of us feel that our leaders could have and should have done more - now is the time to be Katrina survivors instead of Katrina victims!

Now is the time to move forward on sheer determination and the spirit that we all have in our hearts to do what we can to help each other, to make things better and to not rely on promises but the strong wills of our people to bring New Orleans back to where it needs to be.

My name is Jacob Lewis and I am an 11 year old native of New Orleans. I am not running for office (but I retain to the right to do so in about 20 years - haha) I am here to remind you all that we appreciate the wonderful people who have worked so hard to help us.
While we have come a long way since Katrina - we still have a long way to go!
I am here to let President Bush know that there are weapons of mass distraction here in New Orleans. Just to be clear, I said weapons of mass DISTRACTION.

The distraction of STILL living in fema trailers and waiting to rebuild homes. The distraction of too much crime for me and my friends to feel safe playing outside. The distraction of worrying about another hurricane hitting the area when we are not protected and losing everything that we have AGAIN. The distraction of too many people still dying from suicide, not enough health care and too much crime. We have allot of problems, and still, in all of this, have a undying love of this city and a fierce heart to make sure that we deliver for ourselves on the promises that were made to us.

I want to thank all of the heroes, the regular people, the military, the NOPD, NOMRF, the moms and dads and yes, the kids who have worked so hard to bring this place back together and who keep trying every day in spite of the distractions and challenges that we face!

Thank you America for all of the volunteers and for the love that you sent our way. Thanks to all of the people of New Orleans for not giving up!

Let' s Redefine 8 - 29! My name is Jacob Lewis and I approve this message!
Please visit jakes friends . org on the internet to find out how you can help some of us kids help each other.


New Orleans on the Katrina Anniversary (Video!)

Thanks for finding the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund on the Katrina Anniversary. This is Ian Hunter's New Orleans video to share:

Here is our Huffington Post Blog for the Anti-Versary (click logo):

And we appreciate all ReDefine Downloads:


ReDefine 8/29 This Time

We're through the looking glass for another one. Every news network getting its devastation photo op, every special interest elbowing for part of the coverage, and half of New Orleans watching the footage from where they live now.

For this week at least, I'm not an expatriate and watch as Southern Decadence shapes up downstairs. There's not a whole lot of fabulous in the midwest.

Speaking of someone who lived with flair, NOMRF just posted the song "Kid" by Barry Cowsill on our
(MySpace). It's one of the ReDefine 8/29 download tracks, with proceeds benefiting Barry's family.

We lost him post-Katrina two years ago. A former child star and my husband’s Stragglers bandmate, Barry was last shown on Entertainment Tonight at the Convention Center chaos. He had been scheduled to go to rehab if he had made it out of the city. “Kid” is the most accurate description of a country without pity that I have ever heard.

I hope one of the dignitaries mentions Barry in a speech today. In fact, I hope they mention everyone we lost by name. It's getting less likely to happen with every passing 8/29.

The Beautiful Unlikeliness of New Orleans

Two Years after Katrina

read more | digg story


Thanks for the Impact

Thanks for hanging in there for the MySpace Impact Awards. At 3,000 friends v. 150,000 we gave it the old college try.

Two years after Hurricane Katrina, the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund still helps musicians – in great part thanks to our MySpace exposure. Along with grants, NOMRF has offered housing, furniture, transportation and instruments. We founded NOMRF in internet cafes and FEMA rooms while out on the road post-Katrina, and hundreds of grant recipients are still spread throughout the country.

With volunteer graphic designers, publicists and video producers, everything you see on our MySpace is a labor of love. NOMRF would not exist without help from our friends. Musicians are truly the soul of New Orleans, and with help from this MySpace Impact Award Nomination, NOMRF can continue to reach out to them as they play their way home.

-- Jeff and Karen Beninato, co-founders, NOMRF.org


Love Is All Around Us. So is Elvis.

It was great coming home to see John Rankin, Susan Cowsill, Johnny Sansone, Beatin Path, Joe Topping, Mike Mills, Spencer Bohren, Rickie Castrillo, Alfred "Uganda" Roberts, Craig Klein, We Are the Pretenders, Rev. Goat Carson and the Rolling Elvi at the NOMRF Carrolton Station Download Celebration last night. Musicains shared their download songs and we all pitched in for Barry Cowsill's Kid. Susan and Mills did a beautiful version of 'Love is All Around."

Later, Mills stood in the center of Willow Street saluting the Elvis Krewe, proving that members of REM are impervious to Flying Elvi and their smoking engines.

"South Central Rain" on the ReDefine 8/29 Platform is flying off NOMRF's virtual shelves, so love is all around us thanks to lots of musical support.


REM Donates Live Track from Dublin - Amazing New South Central Rain Version

"South Central Rain Live in Dublin" - REM

This exclusive track, available only at NOMRF, is unforgettable. South Central Rain was recorded by REM live in Dublin this summer. and is still appropriate for the aftermath of 8/29 for displaced New Orleans musicians.

The band delivers an unforgettable rendition of the song they debuted on their first David Letterman show appearance, early in the band's career. In fact, they introduced it as "A song too new to be named."

On this track, Michael Stipe chats with the audience after the track, so it's like you made it to Dublin for one of the worlds' best sets ever this summer.




It's The Katrina Anniversary Week. Do You Really Want to Be Around NOMRF If We Lose Impact?

So the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund is at 4 percent in the MySpace Impact Awards, and voting is open through Friday.

That's respectable because NOMRF is 96 percent smaller than the other nominee, but for the love of god IT'S THE KATRINA ANNIVERSARY WEEK. Do you really want to be around us if we lose? It's too sad to contemplate.

NOMRF is aware that means everyone has to make a lot more friends and all of those friends have to vote, but we deeply appreciate you doing anything you can. It's pretty much going to require half a million votes a day.

The $10,000 grant we receive will directly help New Orleans musicians. Recent studies show 70 percent are still gone. NOMRF.org helps them where they are now.

Thanks for your consideration,

The New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund, Inc.

(Click Icon Below to Vote)