New Orleans Update: Retail Music and Audio
The Factory, during JazzFest, before the Flood (from their website)
Yesterday, I went to the Quarter to support the re-opening of the Louisiana Music Factory. The store had a water leak upstairs, but nothing major. Barry Smith, the owner, who I've know since the store first opened in a nearby location long ago, told me that he has just a couple of employees now and a lot of catching up to do. He's a great guy with an award winiing store; and I hope he can hang in there until more locals return and tourists reappear. There were some other shoppers in there, too; and I was gald to see them in those first few hours of operation post-Katrina. I got a bagful o' goodies and will be back for more. I encourage y'all to shop online, if you can't get there physically. Again, support any reputable New Orleans business you can.
From Barry, I learned that another one of the long-time CD and record stores in the Quarter, the Magic Bus, will not re-open. The owner has moved lock and stock to Austin, TX and probably will just sell on-line from there. This is a blow for record browsing and buying in New Orleans for sure. I didn't have time to check to see if the other independent outlets were back open; but I did note that the big stores, Virgin and Tower, remain closed.
There are still not many people on the streets. After I visted friends who have a hand-made rug shop on Chartres, Louisiana Loom Works, that is back open as well, I walked to my car through the lower Quarter, seeing almost no one for blocks. That was eerie. On my way out of town, I stopped in Metairie, in the parish just West of Orleans, at an audio store to see about getting a back-up cartridge for one of my turntables; but, it was boarded up. Looks like they took on water after Katrina, being up near the lake. The Jefferson Parish officals evacuated their pump operators before the storm, then could not get them back in time when the water rose. It's not enough to have a plan. It must also be a good one. . . .
WWOZ was back on the air for a while in the afternoon, broadcasting from a remote studio in Baton Rouge over the airwaves on a limited basis, and 24-7 on-line. They need rebuilding and sustaining support, too. It will take time, patience, luck, and a flood of money to put this dumped on region back together. I am grateful to those still willing to give it a try.