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."

Monday, February 18, 2008

Let's Go Get Em.

Lately I'm noticing more "little chiefs" at Mardi Gras Indian gatherings (these were taken on Carnival Day at about 11:00a.m by my wife Darlene at the corner of 1st and Loyola). Children have always been part of Indian culture, but it seems like I'm seeing a lot more kids at these things post-Katrina. I'm guessing this is a deliberate move on the part of the old timers to get more children and grandchildren involved in the culture. After the Federal Flood, many of us were worried about the continued viability of these things, and while this is still a matter of concern (Backstreet Cultural Museum curator Sylvester Francis, for instance, feels that the real crunch will come in about 10 years time, when the current generation begins finding it more difficult, because of age and infirmity, to participate) I think it's possible we underestimated the tenacity of these traditions. New Orleans has survived a lot of calamity, including devastating fires, previous (though less severe) flooding, and yellow fever epidemics that annihilated much of the population. The Army Corps of Engineers and the Bush Whitehouse are just the next in a long line of bad news.
Anyway, it was a real hoot to hear those kids chanting in response to their elders. The refrain "let's go get em" is a warriors chant, and a call to arms. To my ears it takes on additional meaning of hope for the future, when sung in the high, clear voices of children.

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