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."

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Keep'n It Real.

Today was the annual parade for the Keep'n It Real Social and Pleasure Club, a young club (established 2004) with a route that passes right through my neighborhood, down Orleans Avenue from Bayou St. John, left on North Broad. Where they go after that I couldn't tell you, I usually let them go around St. Bernard Avenue. No matter how much fun following a parade is, it's good to keep in mind you have to walk the same distance back.

This year, as last, the band was the Hot 8, a 'new school' brass band specializing in funk oriented repertoire like "Miss My Homies," "Jisten To Me," and "You Can Run But You Can't Hide From The Truth." But this year, like last year, when the band approached the intersection of North Broad and Dumaine, they suddenly stopped and struck up the old spritual, "That Old Rugged Cross." This is the intersection where, a little over two years ago, Hot 8 snare drummer and Rabouin High School band director Dinerral "Dick" Shavers was shot dead in a stupid and tragic bit of violence.

I've often spoken of how much I love New Orleans and my life here, but there are times, and this is one of them, when the place will cause your poor heart to break. The deep and powerful humanity of the place contains this tragic element as part of it's fabric; you can't have one without the other and if you try, like many tourists and part-time residents, to just take the good without the bad, you are both setting yourself up for disillusionment and denying yourself the full experience of life here. If you really love New Orleans, you must love, understand and accept all of it.

On my good days, I feel like I've got this down. On bad ones, all I want to do is cry. But then, after a while, the band (as did the Hot 8 on this day) strikes up "Over In The Glory Land," and blasts it out all the way to Esplanade Avenue, and we all reaffirm to ourselves that life is fleeting, we're only here for a short while, so we might as well cut some decent steps on our way to the boneyard.

Comments on "Keep'n It Real."


post a comment