Get your New Orleans music fix, donate to recovery

I received a nice little shout-out from the Shout! Factory:

“In the spirit of recovery, Shout! Factory will be donating all of the profits from sales made from the Shout! Factory website of the 4-CD box set Doctors, Professors, Kings & Queens: The Big Ol’ Box Of New Orleans through the end of 2005 to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.

This deluxe 4-CD box set includes 5 hours of music including rock, jazz, soul, funk, R&B, Cajun, blues and Klezmer. It includes greats like Fats Domino, Dr. John, Rebirth Brass Band, BeauSoleil, Buckwheat Zydeco, Earl King, The Meters, The Neville Brothers and Louis Armstrong.”

Last Tuesday night, there were two big benefit concerts in New York City to raise money for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. The Radio City Music Hall and Madison Square Garden were the place to see such big names as Simon and Garfunkel, Elton John, Bette Midler, Tom Waits, the Meters, Bette Midler, Elvis Costello, Dianne Krall, Dave Matthews, and a lot of other great talents. New Orleans’ own Neville Brothers actually played both venues provided a nice write-up on both events.

I wish I was there…..

More thoughts on LOUISiana

All the eyes of the world are on the demaged gulf coast of LOUISiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Such a terrible tragedy made worse by an ineffective bureacracy. We’ll be talking about this one for a very long time.

LOUISiana isn’t an obvious reference point for the song “LOUIE LOUIE.” While author Richard Berry was born in that state, he avoided that area and other parts of the deep south. Coming of age as a black man in the 40’s and 50’s, he wanted nothing to do with an area where segregation thrived, and racism was a serious issue. Perhaps he might have been a bigger figure in the entertainment world had he been a part of the “Chitlin circuit,” but he chose not to do so. Instead, he peformed in semi-obscurity for most of his life, playing various clubs in the Los Angeles region.

Losing New Orleans is a major loss that America cannot afford. While I’ve never visited this fine city, I’m acutely aware of the massive impact this town had on the fabric of American music. In the past week, I’ve been listening to iTunes podcasts of Harry Shearer‘s Le Show from KCRW, and he’s provided some excellent overviews of New Orleans.

A few months ago, I actually met Mr. Shearer at a special showing of his film “Teddy Bear’s Picnic” in Santa Cruz, and had an opportunity to tell him about my LOUIE project. He proceeded to tell me about an amazing version of the song he recently heard by Toots and the Maytals ….. live at a New Orleans festival.

I have no doubt that New Orleans will rise again from the watery grave, and ressurect itself as the fine Bayou city that has inspired countless artists, musicians, writers, architects, photographers, dancers, and lovers of all walks of life.

I’d like to share some links that I hope will be useful.

Habitat for Humanity
New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic
Get Your Act On- Louisiana relief efforts

The evolution of the Big Easy- an article in The Week Magazine
The Katrina Timeline- overview of government response

Lastly, I’d like to share an anonymous essay that arrived in my email box. Share as you see fit.

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Dear America,

I suppose we should introduce ourselves: We’re South Louisiana.

We have arrived on your doorstep on short notice and we apologize for that, but we never were much for waiting around for invitations. We’re not much on formalities like that.

And we might be staying around your town for a while, enrolling in your schools and looking for jobs, so we wanted to tell you a few things about us. We know you didn’t ask for this and neither did we, so we’re just going to have to make the best of it.

First of all, we thank you. For your money, your water, your food, your prayers, your boats and buses and the men and women of your National Guards, fire departments, hospitals and everyone else who has come to our rescue.

We’re a fiercely proud and independent people, and we don’t cotton much to outside interference, but we’re not ashamed to accept help when we need it.

And right now, we need it.

Just don’t get carried away. For instance, once we get around to fishing again, don’t try to tell us what kind of lures work best in your waters.

We’re not going to listen. We’re stubborn that way.

You probably already know that we talk funny and listen to strange music and eat things you’d probably hire an exterminator to get out of your yard.

We dance even if there’s no radio. We drink at funerals. We talk too much and laugh too loud and live too large and, frankly, we’re suspicious of those who don’t.

We put Tabasco on stuff without tasting it first.

But we’ll try not to judge you while we’re in your town.

Everybody loves their home, we know that. But we love South Louisiana with a ferocity that borders on the pathological. Sometimes we bury our dead in LSU sweatshirts.

Often we don’t make sense. You may wonder why, for instance – if we could only carry one small bag of belongings with us on our journey to your state

– why in God’s name did we bring a pair of shrimp boots?

We can’t really explain that. It is what it is.

You’ve probably heard that many of us stayed behind. As bad as it is, many of us cannot fathom a life outside of our border, out in that place we call Elsewhere.

The only way you could understand that is if you have been there, and so many of you have. So you realize that when you strip away all the craziness and bars and parades and music and architecture and all that hooey, really, the best thing about where we come from is us.

We are what made this place a national treasure. We’re good people. And don’t be afraid to ask us how to pronounce our names. It happens all the time.

When you meet us now and you look into our eyes, you will see the saddest story ever told. Our hearts are broken into a thousand pieces.

But don’t pity us. We’re gonna make it. We’re resilient. After all, we’ve been rooting for the Saints for 35 years. That’s gotta count for something.

OK, maybe something else you should know is that we make jokes at inappropriate times.

But what the hell.

And one more thing: In our part of the country, we’re used to having visitors. It’s our way of life.

So when all this is over and we move back home, we will repay to you the hospitality and generosity of spirit you offer to us in this season of our despair.

That is our promise. That is our faith.

RIP: Gatemouth Brown

photo copyright Blues Express, Inc

My condolences go out to the family and friends of Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, who died on Saturday.

Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, was an extremely versatile musician that played blues, country, jazz, Cajun, and other variations of American music for over 50 years. For the past few years, he had been battling lung cancer and heart disease. Before Hurricane Katrina hit his Louisiana home, he escaped to his hometown of Orange, Texas. He lost his home and all of his possessions. I have no doubt this loss excelerated his will to live. He was 81 years old.

I had the pleasure to work with Gatemouth when I was hired as a writer for the Blues Express television show. This little photo is from that unreleased TV show. He will be missed.

Songs for This Week’s Jukebox

This week, it’s hard not to think about Louisiana, Mississippi, and other Gulf areas destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Here’s a few songs that I’ll be playing on my stereo:

“The City of New Orleans” – Steve Goodman, Arlo Guthrie, Johnny Cash
“House of the Rising Sun” – Eric Burdon & Animals, Lead Belly, Nina Simone
“Louisiana” – Randy Newman (as well the entire “Good Old Boys” album)
“Louisiana Blues” – Muddy Waters
“Mother Earth” – Dave Alvin
“Mississippi Mud” – Hank Williams III
“Total Destruction to Your Mind” – Swamp Dogg
“Louie Louie”- Michel Doucet & Cajun Brew (the best French Cajun version of THE SONG ever!)
“What’s Going On” – Marvin Gaye
“I Wish I Was In New Orleans” – Tom Waits

…as well as lots of records by R. L. Burnside, Gatemouth Brown, Woody Guthrie, BeauSoleil, the Meters, Dr. John, Clifton Chenier, Queen Ida and a lot of blues….

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Here’s a few weblinks that I found worthwhile when it comes to discussing the terrible disaster of this past week:

Habitat for Humanity has a webpage specifically set up to accept donations to build homes for poor people left homeless by the Hurricane Katrina disaster

Ross Gelbspan of the Boston Globe writes about the REAL Name of Katrina, a thesis I tend to believe in.

On a similar note, an article in a National Geographic magazine dated July 2001 discusses how weather patterns have changed dramatically in the past five nine years

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My sympathies for anyone with the name of Katrina.

Predicting the LOUISiana Disaster

Here’s an interesting excerpt from an article in National Geographic, dated October 2004:

Thousands drowned in the murky brew that was soon contaminated by sewage and industrial waste. Thousands more who survived the flood later perished from dehydration and disease as they waited to be rescued. It took two months to pump the city dry, and by then the Big Easy was buried under a blanket of putrid sediment, a million people were homeless, and 50,000 were dead. It was the worst natural disaster in the history of the United States.

When did this calamity happen? It hasn’t—yet. But the doomsday scenario is not far-fetched. The Federal Emergency Management Agency lists a hurricane strike on New Orleans as one of the most dire threats to the nation, up there with a large earthquake in California or a terrorist attack on New York City. Even the Red Cross no longer opens hurricane shelters in the city, claiming the risk to its workers is too great.

Check out the whole article at:

Hurricane Katrina Resources

This is not LOUIE-specific, other than a connection to LOUISiana, but in times of need, I’ll use this blog to share info about good things fellow humans are doing for fellow humans. As thousands of people are now homeless, seeking shelter, now is a very good time for folks to help those that need the help.

With a tip of the hat to good folks at The MMOB, I learned that my friend Richard Hoefer created as a web resource to help victims of the hurricane. If you’re trying to find a friend that lived in this area, but can’t be found, this web resource may help you in your search.

It looks like theres’s some other new webpages that have emerged to help those in need.
CraigsList New Orleans Resources for Katrina Survivors

And then, there’s always
American Red Cross

LOUISiana flooded, but Fats Domino lives!

Things have been rather hectic at LOUIE central for the past few weeks- construction work, broken video gear, lack of regular internet access for 4 days, and some kind of sinus-cold-flu infection that has given me congestion with a headache, but hey… I’m not complaining. At least I’m not in New Orleans, where it’s a real disaster.

Our very best wishes go to the folks in New Orleans and other areas hit hard by the big hurricane. For a few days, nobody could find Fats Domino, but it turns out he was able to find refuge with LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell, whose girlfriend was a family friend of the Domino family.

If you can afford to give money for the refugees, I would encourage you to do so, as they can certainly use the support. At the FEMA page, there’s a list of charities you can send money to. I wouldn’t send anything to Pat Robertson’s Operation Blessing organization, as I don’t like to support radical extremists, but that’s just me. There’s plenty of other great organizations you can support.