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

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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)



The Amp Is Up - Start Bidding Now for This Vintage Style Beauty Signed By Rock Stars for a Good Cause


Rock stars Little Steven, Ian Hunter, Mike Mills, Dr. John and Kenny Wayne Shepard are  signing this hand-built Headstrong Amps vintage style Prima BL 112 donated by CEO Wayne Jones as we speak for the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund. How can you own it? Bid by 8:29 on 8/29 for this very functional piece of rock and roll history and support New Orleans musicians (CLICK AMP TO BID).

Proceeds will help displaced New Orleans musicians.


Amp Auction and New Orleans Concert and MySpace Awards Oh My! (Now With More Little Steven)

(Sylvio Says VOTE)

MySpace "Community Building" Impact Award Voting is through Friday and the winner will be announced soon after, we hope, the suspense is killing us. With help from volunteer graphic designers, publicists, video producers, REM, Dr John, Little Steven, Kenny Wayne Shepard and Ian Hunter plus all the amazing local musicians on the ReDefine 8/29 Download, the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund is feeling outnumbered but optimistic.

You too can help by casting a vote at the Myspace Impact Awards official site: http://www.myspace.com/impactawards.

(Click Icon Below to Vote)

You can vote once a day, so keep visiting the site until the deadline on Friday. Each vote counts, and it's a simple way to show support.

We're also still rolling out "The ReDefine 8/29 Download Platform" recently given a 4 star review by Rolling Stone Magazine which features seventeen songs by Dr. John, Ian Hunter, The Kaiser Chiefs, Johnny Sansone, Edwin McCain and Maia Sharp, Backyard Tire Fire, Craig Klein, Chicago Farmer, Susan Cowsill, James Andrews, The Rev. Goat Carson, the dB's, John Rankin, Beatin Path, Bryan Lee, Spencer Bohren and Joe Topping. As many of the above artists as we can get will be performing their songs at The Carrolton Station Download Celebration on Friday. Featuring special guests. Come be one of them.

And starting today, Headstrong Amps is auctioning a retro style hand-built amp signed by Dr. John, Kenny Wayne Shepard, Little Steven, Mike Mills and Ian Hunter. This piece of rock and roll history will be auctioned until 8:29 pm on August 29. Get your respective bidding finger and voting fingers ready.


NOMRF's 4 Star Download Review On The Inside of the Rolling Stone!

New Orleans Musician's Relief Fund

ReDefine 8/29

YOU KNOW THAT NINETY NINE cents you were about to blow on i-tunes? The nonprofit New Orleans Musician's Relief Fund, which help the city's players rebuild livelihoods destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, has a better idea; seventeen topically accurate 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.

David Fricke
Rolling Stone Magazine


Long Shot Gets Second Chance. Note from Founder

To make up for technical difficulties, which works out great for us (The New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund is the underdog), MySpace is extending voting for the Impact Awards to Friday, Aug. 24th. That's time for us to find 96,500 more friends.

A little more about the Fund? We just passed along a donated van and found ourselves apologing that it's a '98. The brass band leader corrected us. "It's not just a van, it's a ride." A ride that will help get his kid to camp.

Imagine waking up tomorrow and packing up everything you can fit in the car. Your guitar, home studio, merchandise - everything you leave behind is lost. Two years after Hurricane Katrina, NOMRF tries to help still-displaced musicians survive. Along with grants, the Fund has offered housing, furniture, transportation and instruments.

My wife and I founded this nonprofit in internet cafes and FEMA rooms while out on the road post-Katrina, and hundreds of grant recipients are still spread throughout the country. We are still displaced, and still pay no office rent to help donations go further.

With volunteer graphic designers, publicists and video producers, everything you see on our MySpace is a labor of love. Ian Hunter's "How's Your House" streams on MySpace Television, and visitors can sample the ReDefine 8/29 Download Project. Our blogs and bulletins also help promote fund-raisers like the amp being signed by Mike Mills of REM, Kenny Wayne Shepard, Ian Hunter and Dr. John. Musicians are truly the soul of New Orleans, and with help from this MySpace Impact Award Nomination, we can continue to reach out to them as they play their way home.

Some have made it back, some are still evacuated and some are fatalities of the storm. I lost two old friends and bandmates, Barry Cowsill (photo at right) and Scott Sherman, to Katrina. Like many other New Orleans musicians, everyone in my family lost everything.

As the years pass, more and more of our legends are passing away without ever making it home. Thanks to REM, Wilco, Dr. John, Ian Hunter and every band on our ReDefine 8/29 Download, displaced New Orleans musicians know the rest of the world still cares enough to give them a hand up instead of a handout. Thousands of MySpace friends care. Thanks to the MySpace Impact Awards Nomination, millions can.

Jeff Beninato


Huge Extension - MySpace Impact Award Finals Now Open to the 24th, So Vote Often!!!!

MySpace has just extended its Community Building Impact Awards voting to Aug. 24 at midnight due to technical difficulties the first two days. That could make all the difference. The New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund is at 3,000 friends and is LA group is 100,000 so it's your classic long shot.

REM Loves New Orleans Music (Vote Pleeez)

Photo By Ino Hillert

REM has put the word out (ARTICLE HERE) that by voting for the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund in the MySpace Community Building Impact Awards, you’ll be voting like a rock star (Click Icon Below to Vote) to help NOMRF receive the grant. You can vote every day through Friday and we find out who wins in a week! Reposting this badge and the blurb would be a great help.

Friends of New Orleans music have helped keep our grass roots Fund alive for almost two years now.


Vote Early, Vote Often for New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund

We're in the final three! You can vote daily from now though Friday for the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund in the MySpace Impact Awards, Community Building category. Reposting this badge and the blurb on MySpace would be a great help. The other two finalists have hundreds of thousands of myspace friends so NOMRF is a long shot but hopeful.

Individuals have helped keep this grass roots Fund alive for almost two years, and that has helped displaced New Orleans musicians.

(Click Icon Below to Vote)


Entertainment Weekly and its Weeks in New Orleans


Finally got an online copy - EW does an amazing job of telling the story in quotes, and trusting New Orleans and its musicians to speak for themselves. Here are some of them:

Dr. John, singer-pianist, New Orleans legend ''I was on tour when Katrina hit. Playing while all that was going down was the worst feeling in the world.''

Irma Thomas, Grammy-winning ''Soul Queen of New Orleans'' ''We left that Saturday to go to a job in Austin. We played the gig Sunday night and said, 'Okay, when we get up Monday morning we'll see what's left of the city.' When we saw the news after breakfast, I turned to my husband and said, 'Baby, we don't have a home to go to.'''

Cyril Neville, the Neville Brothers ''We lost everything. Twenty-five years of reel-to-reel tapes, home movies, writings, my book collection -- all of that's gone. Aaron [Neville, Cyril's brother] lost everything. I lost everything.''

Spencer Bohren ''The musicians came back, but they didn't have gigs, exactly. Johnny Sansone found places for them to play.''

Johnny Sansone, blues harmonica player ''There was a restaurant that wasn't quite open yet. So we started to give shows there. We might take somebody that was a jazz player and have him play with a blues guy. We had Cajun musicians playing with country guys. Just to cheer some people up.''

Robin Chambless, production manager and board member of the New Orleans Musicians' Relief Fund ''I was calling people all over the country saying, I have so-and-so in this town, can you get them a gig? Because nobody wants handouts. Like my mama says, We don't want no handout, we want a hand up!''

Dr. John ''I'm very grateful to the New Orleans Clinic and the New Orleans Musicians' Relief Fund. 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.''

Mitch Landrieu, lieutenant governor of Louisiana ''They basically did Voodoo as a gift to the recovery workers. A lot of the National Guard came.''

Stephen Rehage ''I remember joking, 'I think we can let security go. The audience has machine guns.' Behind the New Orleans stage, I ran out of booze every 15 minutes. Kermit Ruffins, who had to go on at the end of the day -- we found him dancing in the audience. We had to grab him and go, You're up next. Come on!''

Kermit Ruffins, jazz trumpeter ''Yeah, I was hanging out [laughs]. It was a hell of a thing. Just for that little while all the people in the audience forgot what happened, you know.''

Spencer Bohren
''There were a lot of us that had a boycott attitude toward Mardi Gras. I thought, Maybe this once we could suspend the party. And I love Mardi Gras! Finally my son woke up on Saturday morning and said, 'Let's go to Toth, Dad.' Toth is one of the parades. It goes by all the hospitals -- the children's hospital, the insane asylum, all these places where people normally wouldn't see Mardi Gras. So I went, and I was so glad I did. There were more people than I have ever seen. Everyone was just so happy to see each other. I stood corrected.''

Ivan Neville
, funk band Dumpstaphunk ''It was perfect that they had Jazz Fest, to make a statement that we're trying to rebuild this place. Obviously, it's not rebuilt physically. I don't know what they've done to the levees [laughs]. Nobody knows about that.''

Quint Davis ''Fats was closing the festival. I got the call [that he couldn't perform] at 2 o'clock in the afternoon. I couldn't believe it. And then we started scrambling, because we had Lionel Richie there but we had to move him from the other end of the field.''

Robin Chambless
''There were a lot of people upset that Lionel Richie closed our Jazz Fest. God love Lionel Richie, but that's not the person we would have chosen.''

Irma Thomas ''I could have closed out the festival, but instead they used Lionel Richie. That's okay [laughs]. I'm sure they've given some thought to that since.''

Trevor Neilson, philanthropic adviser to Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie ''The New Orleans project with Global Green started with Brad watching the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and wanting to do something to help. The project is an effort to build green, affordable housing in the Lower Ninth Ward. Brad was very upset that the government seemed to be just letting an American city die.''

Mitch Landrieu ''So many entertainers have lent a helping hand. George Clooney was down a couple of months ago in Cameron Parish. Dan Aykroyd has been down to help. Harry Connick's been down here with Branford Marsalis to do Musicians' Village [another housing initiative]. Brad and Angelina have moved here.''

Jason Patterson
, talent buyer, Snug Harbor jazz club ''They used to call this the Big Easy. I don't think that's an appropriate word anymore.''

Glen David Andrews, leader of traditional jazz band Glen David Andrews and the Lazy 6 ''I'm living in a FEMA trailer. F--- that bulls---. I hate the trailer. I hate it, I hate it. They got big plans for the Ninth Ward and they don't include black people, that's for sure.''

Fats Domino ''People all over the world love New Orleans. I love New Orleans. I'm still alive and kicking. I ain't intending to leave.''

Glen gets the "tell us what you really think award," with Robin running a close second. You can download original songs for recovery including Johnny Sansone's "Poor Man's Paradise" and Spencer Bohren's "Long Black Line" at (New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund DOWNLOADS).


Amazing BluzKat Whomps for New Orleans

This is the new BluzKat coloring and activity book. Whomp for New Orleans. Presales will help NOMRF help displaced musicians, thanks to Whompin Pawz Productions.

We love that harmonica playing cat, and the little cat friend behind him. (BluzKat Here).


And you can still visit our New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund (DOWNLOADS)


Dr. John Entertainment Weekly Quote - Mac's Got Our Back!

"I'm very grateful to the people at the New Orleans Clinic and the New Orleans Musicians' Relief Fund. It's small organizations - they've done more than these big organizations with a lot of money."

Thanks Dr. John! You can see what all the fuss is about because the new Entertainment Weekly issue has hit the stands.

We offer his "Wade IV - The Aftermath" as a (Download) at (NOMRF.org) for .99 to help musicians still far from home.


Earl Turbinton, Eluard Burke; John Thompson, Oliver Morgan, and Issachar Gordon Rest in Peace

A woman gave her baby away near New Orleans last week. She handed it over to an officer in a fast food restaurant and walked away crying. That's legal now. We're becoming more Moses than Job.

Earl Turbinton, Eluard Burke; John Thompson, Oliver Morgan, and Issachar Gordon all died this week. Look them up. New Orleans legends are slipping away like mercury, and many still not home.

Jazz singer Timothea Beckerman used to call me from Long Island and not just ask for help, she needed a companion on the phone. Dr. John's phone number had washed away in the storm. Timothea was worried that friends would think she didn't want to go back. She died before getting the chance to prove how badly she missed home. I told her she would be okay . . .

Full Blog At: (Huffington Post)



New Orleans Music and the Impact Awards

This just in - the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund is a MySpace Impact Award finalist. What's exciting is the potential to have New Orleans front and center on the MySpace banner for music lovers around the world. 75 million to be exact.

New Orleans music has had Rolling Stone, New York Times, The Economist, Entertainment Weekly and others covering displaced musicians this month alone, so maybe the steamroller will continue into the fall.

Winning an Impact Award would involve a featured placement on MySpace for a month, reaching its millions of members with the message that displaced musicians need help. Thanks for asking.

Last month, an environmental charity won out over Save the Dolphins and Erin Brockovich. Not that charity's a competition, but a banner with New Orleans in its name would be very nice.

Voting starts on Aug. 14th and ends on Aug. 24th - just in time for the Anti-versary commemoration at Carrolton Station.

If NOMRF doesn't win, at least we'll be back home and in the middle of some great music and all our friends. Thanks for the downloads at nomrf.org. Susan Cowsill, Johnny Sansone, Spencer Bohren, Craig Klein, Backyard Tire Fire and Ian Hunter are the popular hits this week. Catch Susan and Johnny at the Carrolton show.

In other charity news, the Fund is donating a used van to a brass band this week.

Nothing else on that until we're sure it starts.


Sunday Sampler - Stream New Orleans Songs!


If you want the whole song, the Kaiser Chiefs, Beatin Path and the dB's tracks are available for the first time ever on the planet at NOMRF.org.

Let us know your favorites!


New York Times And The New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund - It's Mainstream Media Month

Below are excerpts from Sunday's New York Times Article which the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund, Inc. was interviewed for, as well as Hot 8 Brass Band trombonist Jerome Jones. Jerome is one of the dozens of musicians who stays in the NOMRF Apartment when he comes back to town to gig. This is Jerome with Joe Topping (right) who walked across America for New Orleans and has a song on our download page ("Lord Willing") and NOMRF Founder Jeff Beninato (left) of the dB's, who also has a song on the download project ("Rains Around Here').

NOMRF thanks the New York Times for pointing out that, as we discussed with them, tourism is down, locals can't always afford cover charges anymore and musicians like Jerome are choosing to relocate to Houston for safety reasons.

Want to know how to help?

Your ReDefine 8/29 Music Download will directly aid NOMRF's efforts. Our 17 songs include Dr. John's "Wade in the Water"' The Kaiser Chief's brand new "Out of My Depth" and Ian Hunter's "How's Your House". It's the perfect Katrina Anniversary present to New Orleans musicians.




The Katrina Effect, Measured in Gigs
The New York Times Money Section
Published: August 5, 2007

ON a recent sultry afternoon here, Tipitina's — arguably the most famous musical haunt in a city famous for its music — is eerily quiet. This ramshackle, two-story yellow joint at the corner of Napoleon and Tchoupitoulas won't start jumping until after dark, when Ivan Neville and his band, Dumpstaphunk, take center stage.

But upstairs, past balconies smelling of stale beer and cigarettes, past walls plastered with yellowed concert posters, musicians are working. Some edit concert fliers, tweak Web sites or research overseas jazz festivals; others get legal advice or mix audio and video; others simply chatter about who has found gigs and who is still struggling.

Since late 2005, just a few months after Hurricane Katrina tore through this city, more than 1,000 New Orleans musicians have become members of Tipitina's three cooperative music offices. "I go in sometimes and all I'm doing is checking my e-mails," says Margie Perez, an effervescent blues singer.

For Ms. Perez and others trying to rebuild fragile livelihoods as artists, grass-roots efforts like the co-ops have been a boon, helping them to replace lost or damaged instruments and sound equipment, arranging and subsidizing gigs and providing transportation, health care and housing. The Tipitina's Foundation, the club's charitable arm, has distributed about $1.5 million in aid; in all, Tipitina's and other nonprofit groups have marshaled tens of millions of dollars in relief from around the world to help bolster the music business here.

But it remains to be seen how long a loose-knit band of charities can stand in for coordinated economic development in one of New Orleans's most important business sectors. Although New Orleans is one of the country's most culturally distinct cities, a large-scale recording industry never took root here, even before Katrina. Yet the informal music sector, the kind visitors find in clubs and bars, and large-scale musical events like Jazz Fest, is a mainstay of the city's tourism business.

In fact, local authorities say, music and cuisine are the twin pillars of the tourism industry here; the leisure and hospitality businesses account for almost 63,000 jobs in the city and for about 35 percent of the sales taxes. Both of those figures are larger than those of any other business sector, including the energy industry.

Still, nearly two years after Katrina, there are fewer restaurants and bars offering live music, and the ones that do are paying less, musicians say. As the reality of the slow recovery has set in, fewer locals feel that they can afford cover charges or even tips, so clubs that used to have live music four or five nights a week have cut back to two or three.

Conventions, typically a strong source of music gigs, are running at 70 percent of 2004 levels, but leisure travel remains far below pre-Katrina levels, according to the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau. Over all, visitors generated $2.9 billion in spending in 2006, down from $4.9 billion in 2004, according to the bureau. About 3.7 million people visited the city in 2006, compared with more than 10 million in 2004.

Compounding the music scene's slow revival is the challenge of tracking musicians — who are typically paid in cash and often hold down other jobs — in order to get them financial support. Habitat for Humanity, which is building what it describes as a "musicians' village" in the Ninth Ward, initially struggled to find creditworthy applicants — just one instance of relief for artists failing to meet its mark.

Other organizations also tried to put some financial muscle behind the local music business. The New Orleans Musicians Clinic paid musicians to play at the airport and offered $100 guarantees to musicians who could find gigs for themselves elsewhere. The Jazz Foundation of America also subsidized performances. The New Orleans Musician's Relief Fund, a charity started by the former dB's bassist Jeff Beninato, offered a temporary apartment to musicians.

For artists dependent on support, such backing was invaluable.

Indeed, even as crowds come back, littering Bourbon Street with beer cans and daiquiri cups, musicians say they're not seeing their incomes rebound. Wil Kennedy, a guitarist and singer who plays for passers-by in Jackson Square, says the situation is still "as bad as it was after 9/11," with his tips down as much as 75 percent from the peak period before 9/11. In the clubs, guarantees of a minimum payout are now less common; many clubs offer musicians just the take at the door or a percentage of drink sales.

"They've kind of gotten used to getting the music cheap when people were so desperate they'd play for a sandwich and a $20 bill," says Kim Foreman, secretary and treasurer of a local branch of the American Federation of Musicians, which has lost about 120 of its 800 dues-paying members. Poverty keeps many musicians living with substandard housing and health care, Mr. Foreman says.

Others are scared off by the rampant crime and lack of basic services here, despite an economic need to be back in the Big Easy's cultural stew. "Right now, New Orleans is not fit for my family," says the Hot 8 Brass Band trombonist Jerome Jones, who has relocated to Houston with his wife and four of his five children. Mr. Jones, whose bandmate Dinerral Shavers was murdered here last December, says he plans to commute to New Orleans for gigs and band business.

It's an article of faith among New Orleanians that the music scene is an indelible part of the city's appeal. But the city and state historically haven't recognized the role that musicians and other creative workers play in driving tourism and improving the quality of life, advocates say. As a result, they say, the city and state have underinvested in the cultural sector of the economy.

"People don't think of artists as a category of workers," says Maria-Rosario Jackson, director of the Urban Institute's Culture, Creativity, and Communities Program, which found that the city's infrastructure for "cultural vitality" even before Katrina rated in the bottom half of the country's metropolitan areas.

Figuring how "to translate that authenticity to economic development has been the challenge for all these years," says Scott Aiges, who headed the city's music office before Katrina and is now director of marketing and communications for the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Foundation, which owns Jazz Fest.

Just weeks before the storm, Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu unveiled a new strategy for developing what was described as the "cultural economy." Since then, the state has pushed through tax breaks for arts districts, musical and theatrical productions and sound recordings and made sure that events like Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest, which provide work for many musicians, survived.

But a separate individual tax break for artistic earnings failed in the State Legislature because of concerns that it wasn't fair to other working people, and other large-scale attempts have languished because of a lack of financing. In May 2006, the Bring New Orleans Back Commission, which was formed by Mayor C. Ray Nagin, recommended plowing $648 million into the cultural sector to create jobs, rebuild damaged facilities and open a national jazz center. But those ideas were shelved with the rest of the commission's work, and subsequent, scaled-back proposals still await financing.

New Orleans "needs some anchors around which the economy can begin to rebuild, and arts and culture are an obvious one," says Holly Sidford, a principal at AEA Consulting in New York, which developed the recommendations for the commission's cultural subcommittee at the request of the trumpeter Wynton Marsalis. "But without investment, really deliberate and coherent investment, that won't happen."

Ernest Collins, the city's executive director for arts and entertainment, says of the commission's recommendations, which Mr. Nagin endorsed: "That was a very large price tag. And needless to say, we don't have that money."

Leaders of nonprofit groups and organizations like Tipitina's say they are resigned to filling the void left by the public and private sectors as long as they can. Mr. Aiges, whose group owns Jazz Fest, is using receipts from the event to add new festivals, build an Internet-based system that will allow musicians to connect with talent coordinators and potential licensees, and put on a networking event for musicians during next year's festival.

But musicians say they wonder if New Orleans will ever nurture their careers the way it once did. The Hot 8 Brass Band, which was featured prominently in Spike Lee's documentary film "When the Levees Broke," is concentrating on touring elsewhere in the United States and abroad — even if that might mean missing Mardi Gras — so it can play for outsiders. Outsiders, say band members, seem to value them more than their hometown.

"They make you feel how valuable you are to New Orleans," says Raymond Williams, a trumpeter for the band. "I feel like maybe the city should treat musicians in the same way.


REM's Entertainment Weekly Video for New Orleans

We’re proud to be featured in the Entertainment Weekly and REM Video for Mercy Corps and New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund (NOMRF).


Please check out our (DOWNLOADS)



Dr. John, Ian Hunter, the Kaiser chiefs, Edwin McCain and Maia Sharp Downloads!!!

NOMRF.org is Offering Donated Downloads to Help New Orleans Musicians
- Let's Get This Viral!

New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund

(NOMRF Downloads)

New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund, Inc. is helping displaced musicians from the city where jazz and rock and roll were was born. NOMRF is honored to have our friends Dr. John, Ian Hunter, The Kaiser Chiefs, Edwin McCain and Maia Sharp, Johnny Sansone, Backyard Tire Fire, Craig Klein, Chicago Farmer, Susan Cowsill, James Andrews, The Rev. Goat Carson, the dB's, John Rankin, Beatin Path, Bryan Lee, Spencer Bohren and Joe Topping reaching out to still-displaced musicians. Founded by and for displaced New Orleans musicians, the Fund works to stretch each donor dollar. Brand new releases, exclusive to NOMRF, are the Kaiser Chiefs, Beatin Path and the dB's.