This is where the gunshots come in...
Last Thursday, Dinerral Shavers, the 25-year-old snare drummer in New Orleans' hometown Hot 8 Brass Band, was shot in the back of his head as he sat at the wheel of his car, his wife in the passenger seat next to him. Although this kind of violence is once again so commonplace now in New Orleans that it has almost lost its shock value, this one still sent waves of sadness throughout the city.
As Times-Picayune music writer Keith Spera observed,
"He is another statistic, one of the final murders of 2006. Even as he celebrated all that is good about the city, he fell victim to all that is bad. Despite Dinerral's position on the front lines of New Orleans culture, he was not isolated from the city's violence. Ultimately, none of us is." Read the full story here.
Last summer, Rob Walker -- the New York Times Magazine columnist and author of "Letters from New Orleans" -- wrote about the Hot 8 on his N.O. Notes blog. The blog covers both the documentary that was made about the band in 1999 as well as Walker's own impressions of the band formed during the years he lived here. In light of Shavers' death, it's even more chilling now to consider his conclusions:
"Some kids who grow up in the ghetto figure they can get out by becoming rap stars. Others focus on sports. Some end up dealing drugs. All that was true in New Orleans when we lived there, but what was amazing was that even at the turn of the 21st century, another way out was the trumpet (or other brass instrument, or drums, etc). As I've said elsewhere, I didn't really expect that to be true when we moved to New Orleans. But it most certainly was (is).
So the Hot 8 holds my interest in part because within the collective identity of this sizzling brass band burning up a club or moving a parade crowd, are the stories of these individuals overcoming adversity -- or failing to overcome it."
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