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.