Only In NOLA: 2 Years After Katrina

Words & Images by: Dino Perrucci

Wednesday :: August 29

Only in New Orleans.

Tipitina's :: 08.29 :: Instruments Have Come
It's such an oft-used expression but so completely true, never more so than this past week. New Orleans has always been a city of contrasts, and the city's recovery is no exception. August 29 marked the two-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. While the storm itself battered the city it is very important to remember that it was the post-storm failure of the federal levee system and the complete lack of a realistic evacuation plan that almost destroyed the city. With the same leaders still in place recovery is a slow, frustrating process.

However, there are many fine people doing amazing things to bring back the city they love. Bill Taylor and Adam Shipley head up the non-profit Tipitina's Foundation. The Foundation's mission is to restore Louisiana's irreplaceable music community and preserve the state's unique musical cultures. Each year during JazzFest they hold the fundraiser "Instruments A Comin'" on the Monday between weekends. The goal is to raise money for local high school music programs. While the government has cut school funding specifically to music programs across the country, one could argue that there is nowhere more important to have music in schools than in New Orleans. For the second straight year, Tipitina's hosted the kids-focused "Instruments Have Come" on August 29, which included dueling marching bands, a presentation ceremony and the Sunday Workshop Students performing with some of New Orleans' world class musicians. And again for the second straight year, nearly a half million dollars was raised.

The evening started with the marching bands taking turns performing on a blocked off section of Napoleon Avenue in front of Tips. After a few turns, each band then took up positions on the neutral ground facing each other across Tchopatulas Street. Then it was time for a good old marching band face off. They went back and forth, blasting their finest tunes as traffic passed by on Tchopatulas Street (only in New Orleans).

Marva Wright 08.29 :: Tipitina's
Next we moved inside for the presentation ceremony. The stage was covered with all sorts of brand new instruments. After acknowledgments and thanks to those that made this event happen, it was time for the kids to take the stage and bask in the love that was afforded them. On a day like this, where so many people have so many mixed emotions and horrible memories, it's important for the people of this city to see tangible signs of hope like this event.

The first of three bands to perform on the inside stage was Marva Wright and her BMWs. The Queen of New Orleans Blues, was in fine form, mixing originals like "Katrina Blues" with covers including Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive".

Next up were the Sunday Workshop Students with Stanton Moore, Robert Mercurio, Jeff Raines (all three from Galactic), Johnny Vidacovich, Theresa Andersson and saxophonist Tony Dagradi. Each Sunday the Tipitina's Foundation hosts a free music workshop with different professional musicians where students are encouraged to bring their instruments and play along. While the set had musical highs and lows, the fact that these kids were getting a chance to perform in Tipitina's alongside world class musicians brought a smile to everyone's face.

Soul Rebels Brass Band ended the night with a high energy set. These guys are another great example of the dedication people show in coming back home. Since Katrina drove them out of the city they have been commuting from Houston for a weekly gig at Le Bon Temps.

While August 29 will never be a day of celebration in New Orleans, this annual event is becoming a very special night for the future of music in the city.

August 29 :: New Orleans

Bill Taylor and Adam Shipley
Bill Taylor and Students

Tony Dagradi and Students

Marva Wright

Theresa Andersson and Student

Robert Mercurio - Galactic

Soul Rebels Brass Band

Sunday Workshop Students

Continue reading for words and images from Thursday August 30...

Thursday :: August 30

Thursday at Tipitina's featured a double bill of Gradoux and Groovesect featuring Alfred "Uganda" Roberts. Gradoux features Kevin O'Day on drums, Westbank Mike on guitar and vocals and Scott Jackson on bass. Their set could best be described as swamp-funk. Check out their debut CD, Pronounced (gra-DOO). Groovesect is a collection of young local musicians who were joined by the legendary "Uganda" Roberts. Roberts is best known for his percussion with the late Professor Longhair. Seeing him on the same Tipitina's stage that he once shared with Fess was a true thrill.

August 30 :: New Orleans

Alfred "Uganda" Roberts

Groovesect with Alfred "Uganda" Roberts



Gradoux & Groovesect

Continue reading for words and images from Friday August 31...

Friday :: August 31

New Orleans :: 2 Years After Katrina
On Friday, I returned to the 9th Ward to see what kind of progress had or hadn't been made. I have been back to this area several times since Katrina struck and progress had been slow. As you approach the area there are still so many reminders of the devastation - areas with no working traffic lights and boarded up or gutted storefronts. As we got closer to the 17th St. canal and the area where the barge ended up after the levee broke, there was very little to see except overgrown lots where a neighborhood once stood. Most, but not all, of the debris has finally been removed. Here and there you would see a house being worked on but for the most part there is very little life in this part of the city. God bless the few that are trying to move on in the face of great adversity.

Nearby, I stopped at the New Orleans Musicians Village, which only had a few houses the last time I was there. The brightly colored houses this time stood proudly as an encouraging sign of rebirth. There was also the sad contrast of gutted out homes right across the street from some of these new houses. There is still a lot of work to be done. Without reopening the local schools and putting some badly needed funding behind them it won't really matter how many houses are built. We owe it to the city of New Orleans to make sure that Washington is clear that the job is not done yet.

If you've never participated in a Second Line in New Orleans, well, you haven't lived yet. It is one of my all time favorite things to do. Some local businesses are sponsoring the French Quarter Brass Band Series 2007. This week featured the Pin Stripe Brass Band. One of my favorite post-Katrina CDs to come out of New Orleans is the Pin Stripes' I Wanna Go Back To New Orleans. Check it out. The Second Line was so much fun. Dancing, sweating and grooving to the sounds of a brass band as their horns resonated off of the buildings in the French Quarter. We ended up on the steps of the Louisiana Supreme Court (only in New Orleans) as the band played another set. This weekly series continues with:

September 7: Treme Brass Band
September 14: Bone Tone Brass Band
September 21: Algiers Brass Band

Reason enough to visit New Orleans!

Second Line Parade :: New Orleans
Next it was time to head back to Tipitina's for a Soul Rebels headlining show. The band picked up right where they had left off on Wednesday night, and within minutes of the first note they had the whole room moving. By the end of the first song there were happy sweaty faces everywhere.

After the first set ended it was time to head to The Balcony for Kirk Joseph's Backyard Groove. The Balcony, formerly The Matador, has only been open three weeks, and was completely re-done. Inside, this very nice venue features tin covered ceilings and walls and a raised stage. Located on Esplanade at Decatur, it will add to the already happening Frenchman Street music scene. Joseph and the boys were in fine form, funkin' us into the early hours of the morning.

Sadly, another trip had come to an end. When you love New Orleans it really does love you back. I encourage everyone to do whatever they can to help. From buying a local CD to planning your next vacation trip there, every little bit helps.

August 31 :: New Orleans

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Greg11 starstarstarstarstar Wed 9/5/2007 07:24PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


nice work, Pizano . . .

cuttyfives Wed 9/5/2007 08:26PM
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be fuckin greatful your parents named you Dino, solid name

Rich Lieberman starstarstarstarstar Wed 9/5/2007 08:49PM
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Rich Lieberman

Just outstanding coverage! Your words articulate, your photos stunning. Dino's love for the city and its people, culture & musical heritage shine loud in this peace. The musicians and programs like “Tipitina's Foundation” have been on the leading edge helping to revive the city. Bravo to JamBase for giving Dino the forum share this and to do what he does best... talk about, and take photos of anything and everything NOLA.

"When you love New Orleans it really does love you back." Great line Dino, so true. Felt like I was right there with you!

BlewW044 starstarstarstarstar Wed 9/5/2007 11:08PM
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Brass, Strings, Beats, and the Dirty South!!!

gibbons starstarstarstarstar Thu 9/6/2007 05:57AM
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Great story! Great picts. Keep up the good work.

All Loving Liberal White Guy Thu 9/6/2007 09:29AM
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All Loving Liberal White Guy

FUCKING AMAZING PICTURES!!! Especially the last 12. It's utterly disgusting how FEMA has left these people to fend for themselves like refugees in a thrid world conflict zone but these pictures prove that the music gives the Nawlins' residents the spirit to keep on keepin' on.

Marcsmall Thu 9/6/2007 10:15AM
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"Brownie's doing a heck of a job"

makeithappen77 starstarstarstarstar Thu 9/6/2007 12:21PM
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Beautiful piece Dino, as usual your words and images brilliantly capture the spirit and soul of New Orleans. I spent the 30th in Portland with a group of friends who are also displaced NOLA residents. I had tears in my eyes then, and "When you love New Orleans it really does love you back." has me welling up again. Thank you!

ice331 Thu 9/6/2007 01:11PM
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good article, but not to be a stickler, its tchoupitoulas.

smarttyparty starstarstarstarstar Thu 9/6/2007 05:58PM
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As usual, stunning pictures that have your unique vision captured!

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstarstarstarstar Fri 9/7/2007 05:25AM
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‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

Robert Mercurio is a bad ass. No wait. every musician in galactic is a bad ass. Go NO!!! haha nagin you idiot, better think twice about governorship.

dumb head!!!\

I love music!!!

All Loving Liberal White Guy Fri 9/7/2007 12:04PM
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All Loving Liberal White Guy


I read that on the season premiere of Curb Your Enthusiam this Sunday that Larry David adopts a family of Hurricane victims into his home.

Grape Drank starstarstarstarstar Fri 9/7/2007 02:19PM
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Grape Drank

Excellent article bringing attention to a continuing issue that the national media has failed to keep in their sights. Only picky correction: it is the Industrial Canal next to the lower 9th Ward that flooded that neighborhood. The 17th St. Canal is the one that runs along the New Orleans/Metairie (Orleans Parish/Jefferson Parish) border, and was the one that flooded the Lakeview neighborhoods after its sucky floodwalls collapsed. (The London Ave canal is the other major waterway in NOLA whose crappily-constructed floodwalls failed and flooded Gentilly and its surrounding neighborhoods. See a pattern here? The Fed screwed NOLA with its poorly-run and meagerly-funded Army Corps of Engineers.)