Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Gigs are Good

You will never hear a musician complain about having too many gigs, especially in New Orleans. On Sunday, the NYT noticed that the gigs are not as plentiful in NOLA these days. No kidding.

There have been some private foundations and corporate angels that have come forward to help, including Tipitina’s club and foundation, which serves as an important support center for NOLA musicians. According to the NYT:

“The Tipitina’s Foundation, the club’s charitable arm, has distributed about $1.5 million in aid; in all, Tipitina’s and other nonprofit groups have marshaled tens of million of dollars in relief from around the world to help bolster the music business here.”

The Jazz Foundation’s Wendy Oxenhorn frequently makes the point that jazz musicians are reluctant to take handouts, preferring honest gigs. The Times reports on JFA and other groups efforts to provide gigs:

“The New Orleans Musicians Clinic paid musicians to play at the airport and offered $100 guarantees to musicians who cold find gigs for themselves elsewhere. The Jazz Foundation of America also subsidized performances.”

Dubbed St. Agnes by the Foundation, Agnes Varis of AgVar Chemicals has underwritten JFA’s Jazz in the Schools program, putting musicians to work and exposing kids to jazz. Longtime JFA supporter e-trade came through with a $100,000 emergency housing fund. It is an inspiring example of private organizations coming together to help people in need. It is a point that Terence Blanchard reaches in this month’s Jazz Times (featuring a deathly looking Clint Eastwood on the cover), telling Bill Milkowski:

“For example, a lot of people in New Orleans now are realizing that they can’t go to the government for help. So you have church groups, along with business folks, people who probably would’ve never worked together at all, coming together to try to make things better in the city.”

Unfortunately, this seems to be true at all levels of government. At a time when NOLA desperately need an adrenaline shot of economic development many in the city council have been more concerned with enforcing zoning ordinances than spurring economic growth and supplying basic services. Ultimately it will be groups like the Jazz Foundation, Tipitina’s Foundation, the New Orleans Musicians Clinic, the Stephen Spring Foundation, and other private organizations working with leaders in the private sector that will do the heavy lifting of rebuilding of New Orleans (click the links to support their efforts). After all, has anyone in any level of government inspired confidence with their response to Katrina. OK, maybe one.