Six Degrees of Jangle Separation

For all of us who worship REM like gods, there's one more reason to.

Our friend Mike Mills came to jam with the
"New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund All-Stars" James Andrews, Stanton Moore and Craig Klein this summer at Dr. John's benefit for Wardell Quezergue, and he's catching up with them at the Future of Music Coalition gathering this week.

Bass player John Stirrat of Wilco, a NOMRF board member, was also hanging out at our Chicago benefit along with bass player Jeff Beninato, my husband and NOMRF co-founder. Jeff's former alternative band the dB's toured with Mike and REM when they were label-mates. (Photo of Bass Summit above.) I ditched them all in the green room, as it seemed like a good chance for a bass players only conversation.

Speaking of dB's members, Peter Holsapple, now also with Hootie and the Blowfish, just came back to town to help gut former Continental Drifter bandmate Mark Walton's home with Craig Klein's Arabi Wrecking Krewe. Peter lived in Arabi and has relocated to North Carolina with his family.

Yet another dB's member, Will Rigby, is the drummer for Steve Earle who's in town with the FMC. The dB's recorded "What Becomes of the Broken Hearted" (click here) as a download, and it's an amazing version as well as being NOMRF's only merch.

The dB's are described in the Rolling Stone's Alt-Rock-A-Rama history of rock and roll volume in Peter's essay, "The dB's - What Happened?"

It includes how their song about a suicidal teen was pulled from MTV following a rash of unrelated Texas suicides; How record label owner Albert Grossman, former manager of Bob Dylan, died aboard a plane while holding their contract which would have released them to move to a bigger label. It was unsigned. Their potential hit single was the right sleeve but the wrong song - Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes was inadvertantly inserted instead. Peter's essay explaining all of this is one of the classic pieces of rock and roll literature. The original band reunited last year. These guys are troupers.

Jeff and Mike Mills have stayed in touch since the dB's days, and he got the full New Orleans experience while he was in town. Mike went on a tour of the devastation with the Jon from FMC and Craig from the Wrecking Crewe. Today Jon's visiting Wardell and bring him his monthly NOMRF grant from the Dr. John show.

He's lucky to get to hang out with Wardell who told me when I was moping about missing all the rock: "Like they say Karen, sometimes it be's that way."

Even from up in Illinois, NOMRF was well represented all weekend by Board Member Robin Chambless, the city's best stage production coordinator who worked in the time after Voodoo Fest and before Comic Relief.

And it's great to know godfathers of alternative roots music like REM and the dB's and their successors like Wilco are still looking after their Crescent City brethren.

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