Thursday, October 4, 2007

For Musicians, The Katrina Effect

The New York Times recently had a good article about the impact that Katrina has had on local musicians: The Katrina Effect, Measured in Gigs. It's a good article but pretty sad. For a city known as much for it's music as it is for its food and good times, the fact that very talented musicians can't get work pretty much sucks.

Of course, since Katrina, it's been hard for every one. There's no reason it wouldn't be hard for musicians. It's just a shame that one of New Orleans' main tourist attractions, and one of the things that improves everyone's morale, is having such difficulties. The fear is that if the musicians can't get gigs in New Orleans, will they go where they can?

The Times article has some important figures. They are disturbing, but not unexpected, for anyone living in the area:

Conventions, typically a strong source of music gigs, are running at 70 percent of 2004 levels, but leisure travel remains far below pre-Katrina levels, according to the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau. Over all, visitors generated $2.9 billion in spending in 2006, down from $4.9 billion in 2004, according to the bureau. About 3.7 million people visited the city in 2006, compared with more than 10 million in 2004.

But the article is as much about the good parts of New Orleans as it is about the bad. It covers details about Tipitina's that I didn't know. For example, I didn't know it was created a place for Professor Longhair to play late in his career. I first saw the Prof at Jazzfest in my early teens. I didn't make it to Tipitina's until my late teens and it was never a regular hang out for me.Tipitina's has a chartable arm called The Tipitina Foundation that has given away $1.5 million and raised tens of millions for local musicians. The also have offices where musicians can use computers and search for gigs. Habitat for Humanity is creating a "musician's village" where musicians can live.

Times are hard for everyone right now. I don't know anyone with a lot of spare cash. Most of the people I know with any extra at all are pumping it into rebuilding their homes.

Everybody needs a break though. When you take yours, head to Tipitina's and raise a beer to the professor or take a walk through the quarter. Listen to the music and tip a musician.


No comments: