we could be heroes

Rebirth Brass Band snare drummer Derrick Tabb is nominated for a CNN 2009 "Heroes" award. He deserves it. Vote him in here.

You'll feel heroic too.

Here's my testimony on his behalf:

I remember in 2007, when Tabb and his brother, Glen David Andrews, were arrested during a memorial procession in Tremé for a fellow musician who had passed away. Outside the courthouse where the two had to appear, their attorney Carol Kolinchak read out loud the charges against the two, which were illegible on the carbon copies of citations they'd been handed: "parading without a permit," and "disturbing the peace by tumultuous manner." She'd entered not-guilty pleas on all counts. Tabb pulled out a pen and noted the spelling of tumultuous; he wanted to check the definition carefully, to understand how he could qualify for such a description.

The city dropped the charges a few months later with no further comment; that development received far less attention than the initial arrests.

I'll never forget Tabb outside that courthouse. He was angry about the arrest. But instead of lashing out, he struck out against the poor conditions in local schools and lack of both proper instruction and decent instruments when it came to music education. In 2007, he was dreaming big, about a program he wanted to call "The Roots of Music."

He wanted to create an after-school program to augment the school district's gutted music programs, and to help develop students into brass-band musicians. "Right now you don't have the musicians in the neighborhood anymore because that environment is totally gone," he said. "This city had five great band directors in high schools when I came up."  And it was about more than just music. "Right now, it's easier for a kid to get a gun than a trombone. We're trying to change that reality."

Two years later, Tabb's idea is a reality...

Five days a week, Roots of Music students are bused from around the city to the Cabildo in the French Quarter's Jackson Square. They spend 90 minutes receiving academic tutoring before they pick up their donated instruments and are taught by a group of seasoned instructors, all with marching band experience. Tabb started out with 40 kids and, within weeks, was serving more than 100. "We feed the kids, we have tutors for them, we have buses to pick them up, and we supply their instruments. So they have no excuse for not coming," he said.  And despite the fact that many of these kids were novice players, the Roots of Music band played several parades during last year's Mardi Gras as well as local radio-sponsored summer concerts in Congo Square, all of which were paid gigs.

For more information on The Roots of Music, and to donate look here.


October 12, 2009 3:02 PM | | Comments (0)

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Evan Christopher Django à la Créole (Lejazzetal) 

Clarinetist Evan Christopher, a California native, moved to New Orleans in 1994. In his frequent duets with Tom McDermott, and as a standout member of trumpeter Irvin Mayfield's New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, his erudite and personalized approach to traditional jazz commands attention.

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