Saxophonist John Doheny was born in Seattle Washington in 1953 but has spent much of his adult life in Canada, primarily in Vancouver and Toronto. After early experiences accompanying strippers in bars and cabarets he became a professional R&B sideman in the late 1970s, touring and recording with artists both prominent and obscure. In 1991 he returned to Vancouver and began a program of intense musical study, both in academe (Vancouver Community College, the University of British Columbia) and in the more informal area of performance. He asserts that "all human intercourse is either an opportunity to learn or to teach. Everything that I know about jazz performance (to the extent that I know anything at all) I owe to those players, teachers and students who have suffered to share the bandstand and the teaching studio with me." Since 2003, Mr. Doheny has been a permanent resident of New Orleans, Louisiana, but makes every effort to spend summers in Canada because "it's too damn hot down here then."

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

We Are Not O.K.

There's a meme going around among New Orleans bloggers, posting "We Are Not O.K." today, along with the date 8/29/05.

I'm cool with that, and as you can see, I've done my bit to pass it on. But I also think it's important to keep saying things, over and over again, until we get some traction in the National Discourse (such as it is). Because there's still an awful lot of people out there who don't get it.

For instance, if I hear this referred to as a 'natural dister' one more time, I'm gonna have to hurt somebody. There's nothing 'natural' about the design failures of the Army Corps of Engineers that allowed my city to flood. Neither was this 'hurricane damage.' Mississippi got hurricane damage. We got mugged by the Corps. Then, as we lay there bruised and pleading, George W. Bush and his gang of cement-headed stumblebums came by and kicked us in the ass. Which they continue to do to this day.

But I promised you folks an overview of the club scene here post-Katrina, so here it is. Most of the classics are back open. Some appear to be, sadly, gone for good. And a few new ones have come onto the scene. This last amazes and delights me; that somebody would actually invest money in a music club (a risky investement at the best of times) in this ruined city.

Tipitina's, long the epicenter of New Orleans funk, has been open again for over nine months now. (500 Napoleon Ave. (504)895-TIPS, www.tipitinas.com). Tips has been and continues to be home to several generations of New Orleans musicians, from the late Professor Longhair (the club sports a bronze bust of 'Fess on the premises, and is named after one of his songs), to the Neville Brothers to the Radiators to Bruce Daigrepont to Ivan Neville's band Dumpsta Phunk. It is also now, during the day, the official New Orleans Musician's Community Center.

The Maple Leaf Bar (8316 Oak Street, (504)866-9359) is another joint that re-opened shortly after the flood, running on generator power and featuring Walter "Wolfman" Washington and the Roadmasters. It's a measure of how much music means to people in this town that places like Tips and the Maple Leaf were among the first businesses to re-open, and were packed from the git-go. In times of trouble, music can save your soul.

Mid-City Lanes, AKA the Rock N Bowl (4133 S. Carrollton Ave. (504)482-3133; www.rockandbowl.com). This combination bowling alley and music club was another early re-opener. I highly recommend Zydeco night (Thursdays).

Down in the Faubourg Marigny (downriver from the French Quarter) the Frenchman Street club strip is happening. Cafe Brasil (2100Chartres St.) has survived the summer on latin vibes, particularly Fredy Omar con su Banda. Reggae drives the schedule at the spot now occupied by the Palm Tavern (606 Frenchman Street, (504)220-1785) but blues is also common. The Spotted Cat (623 Frenchmen Street, (504)943-3887) offers acoustic jazz and brass band music from the New Orleans Jazz Vipers, Washboard Chazz and others. d.b.a. (618 Frenchmen Street, (504)942-3731; www.drinkgoodstuff.com) offers both blues (Dave "Honeyboy" Edwards, R.L. Burnside Jr.) and oddball modern jazz (James Singleton's 3 now 4) and Snug Harbor (626 Frenchmen St., (504)949-0696) remains the premier spot in this part of town for straight-ahead jazz, with frequent appearances by Elllis Marsalis, Irvin Mayfield, Astral Project and others.

A lot of places continue to mix up their music policies. Donna's Bar and Grill (800 N. Rampart, www.donnasbarand grill.com) continues to feature brass bands but also has jazz jams in the mix. Vaughn's Lounge (800 Lessups St. (504) 947-5562) has exanded on it's thursday jams with Kermit Ruffins by adding a wednesday session with the Palmetto Bug Stompers. When Wynton Marsalis is in town, he often sits in here. Le Bon Ton Roulez (4801 Magazine St. (504)895-8117) continues with the Soul Rebel's mix of brass band and hip hop in a regular Thursday night residency.

This is, really, only the tip of the iceberg. If it seems like I'm trying to get all of you to come down and listen to some music, you've got it exactly right. I felt that it was important, on the first anniversary of Katrina, to let people know that we're still here, and still doin it.

New Orleanians love their city. They will go to enourmous lenghths to stay here, or to come back, and that love is contageous. I did a phone interview on the CBC A.M. 690 'Morning Show' this morning, and I actually choked up on air.

If you can, come and visit. See for yourself why I love this city so.

Comments on "We Are Not O.K."


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (6:50 AM) : 

loved vancouver , back in new orleans now , leaving for Gustav though it looks like nothing, you still can't trust our levees. wish i could live in vancouver from after jazz fest till right before halloween yearly. tonite at the Saint upriver from felicity off magazine st. DJ Pasta is mining pebbles and platter trax of the psycho garage genres from Loop Den's vaults, keeping a tradition of partying right up to evacuation time alive south of the Lake, yours from 6 feet below sea level


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