Back to New Orleans

Regular readers of this blog know that my favorite periodical is not Time or Newsweek, or even the New Yorker or Sports Illustrated…my favorite magazine is No Depression (purchased, by the way, at Fine Groove Records). The tag line of this bi-monthly used to be “Alt Country-whatever that is”, now it’s something like “surveying the past, present and future of American music” so they can include articles about R & B, Soul and Gospel without confusion…as if the “Father of Country Music”, Jimmie Rodgers, didn’t sing any dang genre of song that appealed to him.

At any rate, regular readers will also probably have noticed that I have a long-standing fascination with New Orleans. Perhaps is largely due to my love of food, music and historic architecture but I think it also has something to do with my long-time study of the social and economic elements that seem to lead to great bursts of creativity.

To continue ambling or rambling toward my point, after the initial governmental excitement about Hurricane Katrina blew in and out of New Orleans, the real work of rebuilding has barely begun. And already our leaders appear to have moved on to the next big thing and the rest of us begin to forget about the Crescent City.

So it was No Depression that brought me back to why New Orleans matters. In the editor’s column “Hello Stranger”, Grant Alden wrote of his many friends, and fellow musicians, that are still displaced by the disaster and lessons we can learn from the experience:

“One of the many reminders Hurrican Katrina offered was how important inexpensive rent (or home-buying) is to the development of art. You cannot take chances, you are not free to think-much less simply to be-if there’s constant pressure to make a mortgage, or if the only livable rental units eat so much of your paycheck that it’s hard to pay for an oil change, much less a car that would reliably take you to the next state. Or dinner.”

…or paint…or paper…or strings.

The NDDC understands the economic challenge to making art. We also know about the potential benefits that can come from bringing artists together. That’s one of the reasons that we’ve been working so long and so hard to create a place in our community where artists can live and work economically.

…and we’ll keep working on the food, music and architecture, because we also believe that artists and non-artists alike have an appreciation for the things that raise life above mere existence.