Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Short Update from New Orleans
Hello Good People:
This will be short and sweet (well, "short" for me), because you and I are all exhausted from the daily wear and tear of the events each day, between Wall Street, the economy and the election, it has been rough for so many. Just want you to know that our thoughts go out to each of you in these strange and fearful times, but remember that somehow, and you never think it will when you are in crisis, but Life always has a way of working out.
Our trip to new Orleans was amazing. We only expected 50 musicians to show up and had nearly 100 of the greatest most beloved folks around.
They all said it was the first time since Katrina that anyone or any group ever invited them all together and then asked them what kind of help they needed!
It was beyond moving to see musicians ranging in age from 30 to 97 stand up and say what they had been going through and how Bourbon Street is barely giving jazz musicians the gigs. Nearly all the clubs we passed that night had rap, R & B, or bad Rock n Roll cover bands. The main thing we learned is that there really are hardly any clubs anymore where they can make enough money to support themselves and actually, to even be "allowed" to play jazz and blues! It was shocking.
We were all shocked by the eye opening stories they heard and then the tour we gave them to the various houses and the great else musicians, one who at the age of 77, had to drag his boat without gasoline in it, by the rope and anchor through the street he lived on with the water up to his chest and went around saving all his elderly neighbors and one child who was in an attic with water up to his neck! It was an amazing story. He also said if it wasn't for our donors, he never would be able to still play his trumpet because he could no longer do those four-hour gigs--the one-hour school gigs were keeping his soul alive. Our entire staff came down and the musicians got to meet some of the folks they've been speaking to all this time for the first time. There was so much hugging and tears from men and women who never had the chance to express their gratitude in person, or who hadn't seen us for a long while. It was so touching and a bit overwhelming.
All the musicians filled out solution cards and later spoke into the open mic, enlightening us in ways that will certainly help us to help them better. They said it was so therapeutic to do this that they wished we could do it each month, like an old town hall meeting for musicians. It was so important to band everyone together because that's the only way we can ever make change.
Best of all, they ALL said that our Agnes Varis Jazz & Blues in the Schools gigs were what was keeping them able to keep their music and their hope alive.
We adore you, our supporters, for changing the world and making one little corner of it more beautiful than you could ever know.
Yours in Service,