main: October 2008 Archives

I'm back down in New Orleans now till Friday. (Notes and images of last Saturday's Black Men of Labor parade to come...) But I'll be gone before the huge, citywide contemporary art biennial begins on Saturday. 

That same day, a number of innovative nonprofits join forces for a "Horns for Guns" event at two sites: Tremé Community Center, 1600 St. Philip Street and the Progressive Baptist Church, 1214 S. Robertson Street. Will anyone show up to trade their pieces for mouthpieces and horns? I wonder. But the very idea speaks to the ways in which culture is integral to campaigns throughout the city to reduce the incidence of violent crime, and regarding a wide range of social issues. I remember when thousands marched on City Hall in early 2007, after the murder rate had soared: Members of the Hot 8 Brass Band and other musicians helped lead the charge, and, once the procession had reached its destination, after trombonist Glen David Andrews said from the podium, "We are young black men preaching culture," a chant rose up -- "Music in the Schools!"

The consortium of organizations behind Saturday's event -- among them, Roots of Music, Gulf South Photography Project, and The Porch  -- are all worthy of attention and investment, and all speak to restoring and improving the city through its most powerful tool of empowerment: culture. 

October 29, 2008 11:39 AM |
and here's why: Cuban pianist Bebo Valdés, who turned 90 on October 9th, is performing a series of duets with his son, Chucho, also a pianist, who turned 67 that same day. Since the two live half a world apart, it's a rare and special event. It's part of a wonderful, sprawling 40th-edition of the Voll-Damm Barcelona Jazz Festival, which runs through November 29th (the type of musical celebration American producers should take notes at).
Here's an L.A. Times piece forwarded to me by my good friend Ned Sublette, who, damm him, is probably listening to a Valdés duet performance as I write.
And below is a piece I wrote about Bebo three years ago for The Wall Street Journal, wherein I mention the only such duet I experienced, alas only onscreen, in the wonderful documentary Calle 54.
October 23, 2008 1:25 PM | | Comments (1)
Oops. Realized I'd never posted the final piece I did for the Village Voice on the Jazz for Obama concert. 
Still thinking about that election...
Now, I continue to regret the fact that even when Hurricane Gustav was barreling toward New Orleans, even when the city evacuated, even as both parties convened separately for their conventions, not a serious word was uttered about delivering the full aid that was promised the Crescent City for recovery efforts, let alone regarding a more serious plan for levee  protection and Wetlands preservation (the two best ways to prevent further devastation while also creating paying jobs that do public good). Okay, the Dems let New Orleans musician Margie Perez speak on their convention floor, but only as a prelude to a Jimmy Carter video about building homes and all that (good stuff but not real policy). And the Republicans had the gall to exploit Gustav with their "suspension" of their convention and their back-patting over how well they responded to the disaster-that-wasn't (as opposed to the still-to-be-fulfilled pledges about the disaster-that-was and its legacy of pain, economic hardship, and disenfranchisement.
See, the thing is, I know that any smart Democrat wouldn't dream of bringing up aiding New Orleans while running for office (it won't fly as rhetoric right now). But I damn well hope that, once elected, Obama and a Dem-dominated Congress would get down to the business of making New Orleans a policy initiative, and backing that up with funding. 
And for those of us who care about the arts, here's a Salt Lake City Tribune piece that contrasts the candidates' platforms on that issue.
October 22, 2008 2:14 PM |



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