Thanks for Micro Giving

Micro-giving has been a godsend to NOMRF for over three years. James Andrews received this trumpet from an East Coast musician, and thanks to a generous donor the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund is replacing the saxophone of an elderly musician whose horn was stolen from his FEMA trailer.

The founders of of Betaworks suggest in their blog that, "We're entering a new era in fundraising and perhaps other social/political causes. What's new? Virtual tribes -- networks of caring people with more commitment than cash. And that's what excites us about micro-giving: It takes so little. You might not have much to spare, but you've got a penny jar -- and we all know that if you reach in and remove a handful of change, you'll feel no pain. What's great about the new, frictionless online giving we're testing here is that, if you've got a good cause, you no longer need to spend a fortune on real-world marketing. Online, with word of mouth and simple technology, pennies can become serious money."

To commemorate the spirit of micro-giving at the holidays, here’s Ian Hunter’s “How’s Your House” video by Grewvia:

More ReDefine 8/29 Downloads are available at:

New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund



Second Baby Grand Piano FInds a Home

The New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund, a grass roots 501c(3), is grateful to music lovers including the woman who donated her baby grand piano (above) to replace Steve's whose home was at the 17th Street Canal breach; and we're grateful to companies like Pearl River which gave piano teacher Sylvia a brand new baby grand to replace the one she lost to Hurricane Katrina.

If you're holiday shopping and would like to support our ongoing efforts, a percentage of the proceeds from CC's Coffee holiday gift packs and Lee Michaels Jewelry Fleur de Lis Ornaments will be donated to the charity, as well as downloads of Lionel Milton, Trombone Shorty, Bonerama and Big Sam's Funky Nation-designed levels on PS3's Little Big Planet video game. Santa Sack Boy pictured below. (Visit www.nomrf.org for details.)


Santa Looks for Louie

In Santa Looks for Louie, St. Nicholas is delivering a trumpet and tell his reindeer, "I guess Louie hasn't made it home yet." NOMRF offers the image in everything from a tote for green shopping (at right) to holiday cards to a variety of tees. Browse HERE or stop by Saving NOLA store in Jax Brewery, New Orleans.

One hundred percent of the net proceeds benefit our charity's programs, from offering housing for returning musicians to helping musicians find gigs as they make it back to the cradle of jazz and rock. Also on the shelves this holiday season, Sony Playstation's Little Big Planet is donating proceeds from game levels created by New Orleans musicians and artists. Sony and Southern Comfort kicked the new benefit levels off in style at the Voodoo Music Experience

And throughout Louisiana, CC's Coffee is offering a percentage of the proceeds from its holiday gift bags, for which the Fund is very thankful.


Messageboard for Musicians on the Road

The New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund has posted a new messageboard for those who have room for musicians out on the road or in shelters. So far we have offers from Austin, Santa Fe, New York, Florida and Kokomo. 2008-09-01-Cayetano.jpg

No one knows what Hurricane Gustav will do yet, so before heading out of town we passed along an evacuation car to a brass band drummer whose first donated car was stolen last year.

When we get back to New Orleans, hopefully in a week, a new Pearl River grand piano is going to a music teacher who lost hers in Katrina. She asked the company to hold her replacement piano as she can't take a chance on losing a second one. This week, NOMRF will finally pass a donated grand piano along to a New Orleans musician who has relocated to Chicago after struggling with the decision to relocate.

There are many ways to help musicians out on the road: If you're a community organizer, plan a benefit; If you're a musician, donate i-tunes proceeds from your song - especially if it's about lending a helping hand; And If you're a music lover, download ReDefine 8/29. Our grass roots charity only receives help from individuals, so every effort counts.

Back in the Midwest since Katrina, New Orleans is weighing heavily on our hearts as we hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

The question we heard more than any other after Hurricane Katrina was, "How's Grandpa Elliot?" the New Orleans street musician. This time around, he's on a train to Memphis.


Smokey on the Water: Rock Star Scholarships Awarded

Mark Hudson and Shamarr Allen jam at Rock Fantasy Camp

When Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp rolled into New Orleans, the rock star counselors asked the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund to fill some scholarship positions and show them the effects of Katrina three years later. Showing someone around New Orleans these days not only includes pointing out abandoned slabs where homes were washed away three years ago, it also includes touring the areas where the city is finally rising thanks to ongoing grass roots efforts.

Camp counselors were Elliot Easton (The Cars); Glen Hughes (Deep Purple); Gilby Clark (Guns and Roses); Dave Ellefson (Megadeath); Chip Winger (Winger); Mark Slaughter (Slaughter); Chris Slade (AC/DC); Marc Hudson (the Hudson Brothers); and Earl Slick (David Bowie). We visited Global Green, Make it Right, Furnishing Our Neighbors and the Habitat for Humanity Musicians Village the day before the show.


Hudson, Elliot Easton, Cosimo Matassa and Chip Winger at the Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp gathering.

Along the way, Aerosmith and Ringo Starr producer Mark had the chance to meet recording engineer Cosimo Matassa who founded J&M Studio in the French Quarter at the age of 18. Cosimo was responsible for Little Richard's Tutti Frutti and Fats Domino's The Fat Man, and Mark was fascinated at the soul of musical history still to be found in New Orleans. Dr. John called my husband Jeff and when he found out about the tour Mac said, "The Hudson Brothers? I wrote a song for them," so Jeff passed the phone along to Mark for old home week. Dr. John also played on Sonny and Cher tracks, whose show the Hudson Brothers replaced so there's your variety show fun fact for the day.


Mark Hudson and Dave Ellefson talk with rock drumming legend Smokey Johnson.

At the Musicians Village, New Orleans drummers Smokey Johnson who toured with Fats Domino for 28 years, and Bob French, leader of the longest running jazz band in New Orleans, held court. Smokey was waiting for us at beginning of the street and the counselors piled out of the bus as soon as they saw him. Smokey talked about how he invented a cadence called Ratty Number Nine in his high school band and the second line beat can still be heard throughout the city on a good night. Mark told Smokey stories about Ringo's fascination with his drumming style.


Eliot Easton autographs one of the lampshades at Furnishing Our Neighbors

Smokey's Habitat home is now sporting a wheeled desk and chair thanks to Furnishing Our Neighbors, which was another stop on the tour. Mandi Thompson's brainchild converts rooms full of furnishings from luxury hotels into furniture for returning New Orleans residents at only $8 and $29 as part of the ReDefine 8/29 campaign. The warehouse is open Thursday to Saturday behind Rock and Bowl and it's gratifying to see truckloads of furniture drive away as people continue to come home. The overstuffed chairs are comfortable which was good after a New Orleans tour in August, and the rockers were kind enough to autograph a lampshade and headboard for FON.


Glen Hughes and Dave Ellefson view the Global Green Holy Cross Project

Beth Galiente showed the rock counselors through Global Green's eco friendly home, as beautifully designed as it is practical. At the end of every year, the utility company owes the New Orleans Global Green home money back. With an energy crunch at crisis proportions, that's quite a feat. The home was designed by the winner of a architectural competition sponsored by Brad Pitt. I want to move back to New Orleans and live in the Global Green home. Just saying.


Rock Tree Poster from Rock Camp

Kenneth James from Jazz City Tours not only hosted the rockers, he hooked us up with a table at the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club that night. Last week, the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund was able to pass a saxophone along to Kenneth thanks to one of our amazing instrument donors. In the tightly knit community that is New Orleans, almost every musician at the Zulu club that night was Kenneth's cousin. The counselors turned in early, but took time out to sign NOMRF's series of rock tree posters and a 40th anniversary Fender Strat, auction link coming soon.


Chip Winger and Scholarship Student Austin Clements

The next day was band camp, and Mark Hudson helped NOMRF present two guitars to twins Austin and Tyler. Mel in Chicago sent down 14 guitars with her Bat Mitzvah money, and the rehearsal was held in a synagogue so it was one of those days where the rivers keep intertwining. Cosimo told the counselors the story of how his first microphone was bought from a nearby synagogue which no longer wanted their high end German microphone after World War II and sold it to him for half price. It was the microphone that recorded some of the earliest songs in rock and roll history. Much of Cosimo's memorabilia washed away after the levee failure, but he can still be found in Matassa's Grocery Store in the French Quarter most mornings to expound on the roots of rock and roll.


Elliot Easton rocks out at the House of Blues

Austin and Tyler jammed all afternoon along with their guitar god dad, Cranston Clements, and trumpet virtuoso Shamarr Allen brought his kid brother Khalid Allen in for the third NOMRF Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp scholarship. Mark Sleeper came up with the scholarship concept so props to L.A. Shamarr was in the movie Skeleton Key with Mark's niece Kate Hudson, which made for another six degrees moment. On Monday night Cranston, Shamarr and his kid brother kicked out Proud Mary at the House of Blues with their camp counselor Mark Hudson.

The band name was Cosimo's Kids.


Making New Rock Stars, One Axe at a Time

Today nola.com's Chris Rose described our nomrf guitar transfer (story here). Next month the charity is passing along a donated grand piano and good used car to New Orleans music families thanks to the help that's still coming in.


Jammin' Generosity of Two Families Places Guitars in the Hands of Young Rockers

By Chris Rose, Columnist, The Times-Picayune

Let us pause to consider, once again, the kindness of strangers.

There is a young woman in the north Chicago suburbs -- Wilmette, Ill., to be exact -- who cooked up a rather unorthodox plan to celebrate a hallowed rite of passage in her life.

Her name is Mel and, as her bat mitzvah approached this past May 31, she told her parents that she would like to forgo the bundle of cash and gifts that generally attend the Jewish celebration of a young woman's entrance into adulthood and, instead, would like to buy -- of all things -- a bunch of guitars for kids in New Orleans.

At the very same time, a couple of kids from the Discher family in Wheaton, a western suburb of Chicago, decided to canvass their neighborhood residents and businesses, soliciting donations for a trip they planned to take with their family to New Orleans this month.

It's part of a Discher family tradition, something they call their annual Donation Vacation, wherein they pick a troubled spot in the world -- hopefully one that's nice to visit, as well -- and they go there not only to sightsee but to help out in any way they can.

What both of these kids' families had in common -- other than the obvious Chicago link -- was that the parents in each case went online in search of a worthy recipient of their generosity.

Both considered but eventually eschewed the big dogs of the rebuilding effort -- the Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, etc. -- and looked for something more grassroots. Since music was a common tie among all parties involved -- the two kids in Wheaton are both musicians -- they both happened upon the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund.

To add to the serendipity of it all, the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund is headquartered in Illinois, south of Chicago in Bloomington. It was founded by a former New Orleans couple, Jeff and Karen Beninato, who evacuated there for Hurricane Katrina and remained.

The timing was just too exquisite. The Wilmette family bought 14 Fender Squire electric guitars. The Dischers asked the Beninatos what they needed most, so they made a list of accessories -- guitar cases, straps, strings, amps, picks, etc.

Put in touch with each other by Karen Beninato, the two families met last month in Rosemont, Ill., for the guitar handoff. Then the Dischers headed south for New Orleans. They arrived last week and, on Thursday afternoon, 14 New Orleans kids got outfitted with brand new guitars.

The giveaway was a little unusual not just because of the very poignant details of the donations, but because most music charities around here tend to focus on horns and other staples of the brass, jazz and marching band traditions.

"We didn't want to leave out the rock-and-rollers," Karen Beninato told me with a laugh at the Parkway Bakery in Mid-City, where the giveaway was held. "We're what you'd call an 'instant charity' -- what people donate to us, we immediately deliver to New Orleans. And we've brought down everything from saxophones to cellos, but this is the first time we delivered a bunch of axes."

The Parkway Bakery courtyard was abuzz with activity Thursday afternoon as the chosen recipients picked out their guitars from the selection of black, turquoise and even pink Squire models.

What most of the kids had in common is that they are the children of New Orleans musicians; this is one way to keep the music flames burning here. Eleven-year-old Olivia Huston, the daughter of local sax player Derek Huston, hugged her turquoise model to her chest like it was a favorite doll or stuffed animal.

It's her first instrument. She was wearing a Ramones T-shirt. I asked her what kind of music she planned on learning on it and she told me: "The guitar kind."

Yeah, you right.

Eight-year-old Dinneral Shavers Jr., the son of the slain New Orleans brass band leader, leaned on his new ax with a big smile. "This is my first real guitar," he said.

I asked him what his music ambition was. He said: "Like, I don't know. Jazz?"

Other Squire recipients hailed from equally notable New Orleans musical families -- the Frenches, the Andrews, the Allens and the Clemenses. Also, six guitars were being donated to the Lusher Charter School -- "the school of rock," Karen Beninato called it, a reference to the inordinately large number of musicians' children who go there.

Carson and Emma Discher watched it all with satisfaction. He's 12, she's 14. They're the two kids who solicited their neighbors up north. She wore peace sign earrings and told me: "It's cool to help people."

Their mother, Deb Discher, said: "We live by the motto: To whom much is given, much is expected."

And what we can expect around here now is the sound of ringing guitars. Courtesy of our friends in Illinois, strangers no more.



ReBuild Your Own New Orleans Garage Band

"Give what you have to somebody, it may be better than you think."
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Since Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent broken New Orleans levees, hundreds of music lovers have donated enough to keep displaced musicians in gear, transportation, housing and instruments through the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund. This grass roots support has freed nomrf from having a large staff, office or professional fund-raisers and lets us concentrate on getting instruments directly into the hands of New Orleans musicians.

Next week, fourteen Fender Squier electric guitars, amp and stands will be given to young musicians in New Orleans thanks to Mel who bought them with her Bat Mitzvah money. Another family will drive the instruments down, along with gear they collected from neighbors in their Penny to Remember New Orleans Drive. The New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund will distribute the instruments with Dash RipRock entertaining, and NOMRF supporters REM are sending some surprises down to encourage the beginning musicians. The New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund is also part of replacing a piano teacher's Pearl River baby grand piano which she had just made the last payment on the week Katrina hit, so it's a summer of new beginnings.

Founded while displaced from Hurricane Katrina, our 501(c)3 certified charity operates entirely on grass roots donations with no corporate or government sponsorship. Between now and 8/29, the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund is hosting a ReBuild Your Own New Orleans Garage Band drive in honor of Scott Sherman, drummer for one of New Orleans' first garage bands, Dr. Specs and the Optical Illusions. Scott, who my husband Jeff gigged last with the week before Hurricane Katrina, died in the storm, and many of our city's legends have passed away too soon.

Almost three years post-Katrina, touring musicians are struggling with higher gas prices and can use help staying out on the road. In the current economy, CD sales are down across the board, and many displaced musicians are still attempting to build a new fan base in towns halfway across the country. None of today's music, from jazz to R&B, would be what it is without the contribution of New Orleans musicians. Please join us in getting the next generation of New Orleans musicians started out right.

Donations may be made at nomrf.org or at our MySpace page, or you can:

Host an instrument and gear drive

Plan a ReDefine 8/29 event in your own town

Download ReDefine 8/29 with tracks including REM, Dr. John, Ian Hunter

Ask a local hero to donate part of downloads, ticket sales or merchandise


And Grace Will Lead Me Home: Aaron Neville Returns to New Orleans Jazzfest

Aaron Neville just gave the show of the year at New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, closing out the Gospel Tent with Randy Newman's "Louisiana 1927." It was his second encore, and at the words "What has happened here is the winds have changed," the audience burst into applause. Jazzfest audiences now include a mix of those who lost their houses to the levee failure and have not come back, like Aaron, and those who pioneered New Orleans recovery and offer evacuees a couch when we come home. When he sang, "I Was Born By the River," it became obvious that there is a new gospel now.

Some locals reacted angrily to the Neville Brothers not closing out Jazzfest the last two years after the storm. Cyril Neville, now an Austin resident, expounded on whether or not New Orleans supported its musicians, even before the storm, and that added to the controversy. Aaron suffers from athsma, and in 2006 I saw an "Athsma My Ass" tee shirt worn on the festival track. With his warm welcome in the Gospel Tent today ("When I Say Aaron You Say Neville"), it's clear that the town is ready to heal. John C. Reilly was one of the celebrities wise enough to come down and enjoy the set. Next up for Aaron is a tour with Dr. John, hopefully coming to a city near you.

Aaron's inimitable falsetto carried "Amazing Grace" through the tent, dedicated to the late Wille Tee, a great musician who died far from home, and to Aaron's wife who was battling for her life during the last few years.

"This is for those we lost, who are waiting for us," he said.

After Katrina I settled up north to stay with my father as his memory faded. We lost him just after last year's Jazzfest, so quickly I never had a chance to say goodbye. My mother's mind slips a little further away every day. Last week I walked up a set of deck stairs, and turned around to notice that she was walking up the shadow next to them. It's like living with a performance artist. There are as many factors keeping hundreds of thousands of us away as there are drawing us back. The New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund still exists because it has to -- so many are still so far away.

Walking across the fairgrounds as familiar faces drift by, this is the line still with me, sung by a man with a voice like an angel and a sword tattooed on his face. New Orleans reconciles opposites.

"Through many dangers, toils and snares I have already come.

Tis grace that brought me safe so far and grace will lead me home."


Jazzfest in New Orleans: Showing Up for the Party

Welcome to virtual New Orleans. It's a cool day, wild parrots are screeching in the back yard and we're waiting to see if it rains before heading to the racetrack. Bob French, proud owner of a Habitat for Humanity Musicians Village home, drummer for the longest running band in the city and the planet's most uncensored disc jockey on WWOZ is keeping listeners posted on Jazzfest weather. He says, "There will be no rain today," and his guest adds:

"You listen to some of these weathermen with their gloom and doom and they say, 'we're all going to be under water . . . well actually we were under water that one time so maybe they're right." Radio New Orleans at its finest.

Dr. John is a must-see at 3:20. He's been working in new tracks from The City That Care Forgot, and based on a sneak preview over the holidays this one will make him the most uncensored musician in New Orleans when it debuts in June. We listened to hundreds of tracks to compile the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund benefit ReDefine 8/29 download and I thought I had my fill of post-Katrina songs. It turns out I haven't.

The "Turbinton's House" Tribute is this afternoon in the WWOZ Jazz Tent to honor Earl "The African Cowboy" Turbinton and his brother, Willie Tee, who both passed away within the last year. Too soon, and both very missed. Each New Orleans musician is distinctive enough to each leave a void that can never be filled, but each also mentors a new generation in a way that no other city offers. They gather in a rolling sideshow of bands as exemplified by Paul Sanchez and his Rolling Sideshow. Paul's former band Cowboy Mouth also plays today. John Thomas Griffith of Cowboy Mouth was in The Fate Brothers with NOMRF founder Jeff Beninato, and all these ties reinforce the sense that everyone you love is just up the festival track.

2008-04-26-band.pngJeff now plays bass with Bryan Lee Lee and the Blues Power Band. The Braille Blues Daddy mentored Kenny Wayne Shepard as a young prodigy, and Kenny Wayne will be playing the Fest next weekend. Bryan will rock the Rivershack tonight before heading to a festival in Germany. He's one of the many New Orleans musicians back on the road after losing a steady gig to the storm, and his "Katrina Was Her Name" is up for Best Contemporary Blues Album at next month's Handy Awards. But first it's off to Ingolstadt, fictional (hopefully) home of Mary Shelly's Frankenstein.

Back at the Jazz and Heritage Festival, the rain is finally coming down and Big Jay McNeely, a founder of rock and roll, is taking the stage. Known for leading strolls out of clubs and around the block, he was once arrested for disturbing the peace on one of his second lines. His band kept playing until he was bailed out, came back to the club and finished the song. In the '40s, Big Jay once crawled from home plate to first base on his back while playing sax in an LA stadium. His stage show made him one of Jimmy Hendrix' biggest influences, and eventually got him banned from LA. He introduced his track 3-D, available from the nomrf Sax on the Web download, with:

"When I was 21 I recorded this number. I'll be 81 on Tuesday, so here we go . . . "

Yesterday Robert Plant played "Fortune Teller" as Allen Toussaint beamed backstage. He also loaded up on swamp pop at the Louisiana Music Factory, as any good visitor should.

John Boutte just stopped by the WWOZ tent to thank New Orleans visitors for supporting its music. He also described the challenge of bringing music to fans ready to let the good times roll, while waiting for the recovery of your home town.

"People are still dying from the devastation from the failure of the federal levees and they're dying in auto accidents trying to make it back home, they're dying from increased substance abuse, people are being thrown out of their homes, living in facilities, but yet here we are. We're still trying to make it through. Thank God we do have a little distraction, and thank the world for helping us."

John specifically thanked the Threadheads, a jazzfest supergroup, for funding his and Paul Sanchez' new cd, and closed with "Showing Up for the Party":

"I'm showing up for the party so everyone can see. I'm showing up for the party, but I know it's not for me."


Mardi Gras Fashion Police

If this year's Oscar fashions were too tame for your taste, check out the Saving NOLA Mardi Gras Open House. Styles were more Bjork than Tilda Swinton, so mix up a Sazerac, crank some Subdudes and check it out (HERE).

Our internet connection died (so much for liveblogging) and an ebay strike postponed the rock auction so clearly we're on New Orleans time. Photos of rockers and relief workers decked out in Zulu beads and solidarity have been trickling in for weeks.

For rebuilding style, come down to the Gulf Coast for festival season and shop for merchandise at the Save NOLA Now Store in Jax Brewery. Their tee shirts and handbags benefit the Habitat for Humanity Musicians Village, New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund, Global Green and Make it Right.

Happy 3-weeks-after-Mardi Gras. We loved this guy's feathers, by the way. Discuss among yourselves.



Free at Last: Second Line Released from Charges

Glen David Andrews, a member of the Jessie Hill musical dynasty, just had charges dismissed by New Orleans City Attorney, as well as Derrick Tabb. Both musicians were cited last fall while marching in a memorial second line for Kerwin James who fell ill far from home, as so many other New Orleans musicians have.

There are no hard and fast figures for how many. A filmmaker just asked me exactly how many New Orleans musicians have died of heartbreak before they had a chance to move back. If the funding existed for that study, we would give it to displaced musicians. The only overall mortality study that exists is from an individual who counted obituaries.

Before Katrina led to his displacement, Kerwin was a member of the New Birth Brass Band, and his brothers were in the Rebirth Brass Band. In the middle of their heartbreak, to be arrested at a funeral march is unimaginable. Tanio Hingle of the New Birth Brass Band is doing his best to come back to the city, but a van the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund donated to him has already been stolen.

It's an ongoing struggle and here's some back story. Glen was part of the rally when Dinerral Shavers of the Hot 8 Brass Band and filmmaker Helen Hill, both beloved members of the New Orleans arts community, were murdered in unrelated incidents. It hit close to home - at the time Dinerral's bandmate was living in an apartment NOMRF provides.

Thousands of residents rose up, and Silence is Violence has kept that movement alive. Andrews marched up the steps of City Hall at the Silence is Violence rally and said, "I'm scared to death of the police." The Mayor showed up to speak, but rally organizers turned him down. He could speak anytime - this was their day. Katrina has given many the ability to speak truth to power. What do we have to lose?

Glen was charged with "disturbing the peace by tumultuous manner" while playing "I'll Fly Away," a traditional funeral march. His cousin, James Andrews, wrote Sixth Ward Soul (HERE), a description of what has changed after the levees broke. Last spring, Dr. John led a second line (pictured above) to dedicate a headstone to James' grandfather Jessie Hill in a cemetery that is still a shambles

New Orleans needs every available voice, and thankfully Dr. John is there for us. He has an album (I still call them albums) coming up in the spring that's so badass I'm going to listen to it all day every day. Because every voice is crucial.

There's so much we still have to lose.


Kaiser Chiefs Rock Brit Awards and New Orleans Anthem

Indy darlings the Kaiser Chiefs, expected to play the Brit Awards in collaboration with Sir Paul McCartney, are nominated for two of tonight's awards and their benefit track Out of My Depth is exclusively available on ReDefine 8/29 Downloads.

Rolling Stone Magazine reviewed Out of My Depth as a fine stomp with overtones of a "pissed off Badfinger."

The song's chorus is a rallying cry against apathy for New Orleans musicians still coming home to a city with fewer gigs and higher rents:

(Song preview (HERE).)

I get out of my depth
until nothing is left
and it's only coming up to our hips

I get out of my depth
unless something is said
if you ignore it then it doesn't exist

The last line is especially telling as mainstream media outlets narrow their stories to Mardi Gras, the Katrina Anniversary and sporting events like the NBA All-Star Game that New Orleans is doing a spectacular job of hosting. The BBC has covered the ongoing struggles of New Orleans evacuees extensively, and New Orleans legends who sell out European tours but rarely get booked in the states can attest to the difference in support.

Two more Brits who have pitched in on the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund's ReDefine 8/29 are Ian Hunter (All the Young Dudes) with his How's Your House anthem and Grewvia video, and Liverpool's Joe Topping who not only donated his ballad, Lord Willing, he also hiked from Chicago to New Orleans to help raise awareness for the city.

Thankfully London is still calling.


Auction to Keep New Orleans Rock Rolling

The New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund, Global Green, Habitat for Humanity, Make it Right and Saving NOLA Now hosted Mardi Gras Day at the Circle Bar for relief workers and musicians including Papa Mali, Kirk Joseph (Kirk Joseph's Backyard Groove), Viki Peterson (The Bangles), Mike Mills (REM), Bill Davis (Dash Riprock), Rev. Goat Carson (Dr. John), Don Williams (The Revealers), Susan Cowsill, Russ Broussard, Abby Travis (The Bangles), Dave Clements (Plowboys), Joey Torrez (Clockwork Elvis), and as many as we could fit on the balcony.

To keep the help rolling, you'll soon be able to bid on items including an autographed Dream Girls poster by Jamie Foxx; cast-signed script to Criminal Minds; 40th anniversary strat signed by Little Steven; and signed, numbered museum quality prints by legendary rock photographers William Coupon and Curtis Knapp including the Marsalis family, and an original book print of REM.

With a new cd and tour in the works, REM has supported New Orleans musicians by releasing an Entertainment Weekly video at the Katrina anniversary, donating a live South Central Rain track from Dublin to ReDefine 8/29, signing the lyrics to Everybody Hurts for auction, and Mills playing at our Dr. John benefit for Wardell Quezergue.

A series of Rock Tree posters signed by Little Steven (E-street Band), Mills, Dr. John, Susan Cowsill, John Sinclair (MC5, now with Radio Free Amsterdam) and Jeff Beninato (the dB's), will be available soon. William Coupon's museum quality Dr. John print (below), embellished by the Good Doctor, is the first photo up for auction at (www.nomrf.org)

This trip home, we were able to help a musician out with medical bills, and donate replacement instruments. NOMRF has been blessed with some of the best friends New Orleans musicians could have, and they still need all the friends they can get.


'Lies' by Abby Travis and The Bangles to Benefit Displaced Musicians

Check out the brand new track: "Lies" at: i-tunes.

“Lies” by Abby Travis with The Bangles to Benefit New Orleans Musicians:

Abby Travis featuring the Bangles I tunes exclusive track “Lies” ramps up for the Primaries and Carnival Season, and will benefit the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund. Travis' amazing track has a sparkling contribution from the Bangles for a punk/cabaret style feel. "Lies" has elements of classic Queen, Camper von Beethoven and the Ronettes if they were all very, very pissed off about the state of things in New Orleans and the level of corruption. Lyrics include “We’re making progress, everything’s under control . . . “

In addition to writing, performing, recording and producing “Lies,” Travis’ is known for her previous three releases "GlitterMouth", "Cutthroat Standards & Black Pop" and "The Abby Travis Foundation" The Washington Post described Travis as “ … a Brecht-Weill epiphany.” and The Los Angeles Times calls Abby “ … alternately brainy and sensual, and consistently engaging.”

Travis' collaboration with The Bangles on "Lies" resulted from her career as touring bassist for the band.

"I sang the song for them on the tour bus last year and they were all happy to jump on board the back up vocal train! Kristian Hoffman (Travis' longtime keyboardist who was songwriter for Klaus Nomi and The Mumps) and I had a great time arranging the vocals for such wonderful voices. We're all stoked to have them involved in the track. " Travis says.

In addition to playing bass in The Bangles, Travis has filled bass duties for a wide array of acts including Beck, Elastica, KMFDM, Exene Cervenka's The Original Sinners, Michael Penn, and Gibby Haines, to name a few. Travis also comes from a politics/ news background: her mother, Alice Germond, is secretary of The DNC and her father, Larry Travis, was an Emmy Award winning documentary cinematographer.

All of the artist’s proceeds from the “Lies” download will be donated to The New Orleans Musician’s Relief Fund, Inc. After the levee break, thousands of musicians lost instruments, gear, home studios, merchandise and their homes, and t he grass roots certified 501c(3), provides direct financial assistance. The Fund was started by displaced musicians post-Katrina, and grant recipients are spread throughout the country. Along with grants, NOMRF has offered housing, furniture, instruments and transportation. MySpace has nominated the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund twice for its Community Building Impact Award.

Dr. John told Entertainment Weekly he was grateful to the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund, and added 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.'

The progress of rebuilding has been slow and difficult, but it is happening. By downloading this .99 track on i-tunes, you'll be helping displaced New Orleans musicians keep receiving the help they need.