August 09, 2006

Yeah, you right, Jan

I just got around to reading Jan Ramsey’s Mojo Mouth column in this month’s Offbeat and couldn’t agree with her more. The continuation of New Orleans’ musical heritage was always endangered before the Katrina flooding and is now just about on life support. In a national society that has for decades based its musical choices on corporate dictates, momentary whims, and disposable consumerism, it’s nearly impossible to foster appreciation for the concepts of culture, tradition, and roots. So, read Jan’s entire piece. It’s good context for anything you hear or read on HOTG or about New Orleans music in general. Here’s an excerpt:

When I first started the magazine, my mind boggled at the wealth of talent in New Orleans. The music literally bubbled up from the street. That’s become a cliché phrase, but once you do any research about the source of the city’s indigenous music, you find that the Mardi Gras Indians, brass bands, and multiple forms of jazz have literally been spawned by the tradition of passing the music from one generation to the next.

You’d think that because we have something that is so unique and precious—and ultimately ethereal—that there would be more interest in making sure that our music, that’s so ingrained in what makes us unique, isn’t lost forever.

That isn’t the case in New Orleans.

For a deeper investigation of the value of Crescent City culture pre- and post-flood, I suggest Tom Piazza's fine book, Why New Orleans Matters.


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