FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Why I’m Not Going Back to New Orleans

Would I go back to live? There’s nothing there. And the situation for musicians was a joke. People thought there was a New Orleans music scene — there wasn’t. You worked two times a year: Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest. The only musicians I knew who made a living playing music in New Orleans were Kermit Ruffins and Pete Fountain. Everyone else had to have a day job or go on tour. I have worked more in two months in Austin than I worked in two years in New Orleans.

A lot of things about life in New Orleans were a myth. I lived in the Gentilly neighborhood. I am not a fish. I cannot live under 6 feet of water. In the 9th Ward and Gentilly they are going to do mass buyouts, bulldoze everything and make it green space. In my estimation, those are golf courses and other places where African-American people won’t be welcome. There’s nothing wrong with my house except that water destroyed everything we had in it. The foundation is fine. The house is still there. Same thing with our neighbors. So what are they talking bulldozing?

For a lot of us, the storm is still happening.

Up until the storm, Aaron, myself, Art and Kermit Ruffins were some of the only musicians who had ‘made it’ who were still living in New Orleans. Now you got cats that come down there every now and then to be king of a parade or whatever. They couldn’t find helicopters to get people off of roofs, but they found helicopters to bring certain people in for photo ops. I’m not mad at anybody, but at the same time we put a lot into that city and never got what I think we should have got out of it. Now I’ve landed in Austin.

New Orleans and Austin musicians have had an affinity for each other’s groove for a long time, going back to my days with the Meters when we played Armadillo World Headquarters in Austin. On any given night we would end up with five or six guitar players onstage with us, be it the Winter brothers [Edgar and Johnny] or the Vaughan brothers.

Gaynielle Neville and I now appear in a weekly Tuesday set called “New Orleans Cookin’ & Jukin’ ” at Threadgill’s in Austin. Gaynielle cooks red beans and gumbo, and we perform with their group Tribe 13, which includes Austin vocalist Papa Mali.

The way we have been accepted in Austin is such a pleasant surprise,” We were treated like family.

I linked up with the Guthrie family about 18 months ago. I was looking for songs for an upcoming solo album and discovered the Native American rock band Blackfire. They had recorded Arlo’s “Mean Things Are Happening in This World.”

That song jumped out at me, so I did my version. For years I have wondered how can I get in contact with Arlo and Willie Nelson — people who have the same kind of attitude and consciousness I have and who want to use their art the same way I’m trying to use mine. I got that consciousness from Woody Guthrie.

People are talking to me, but some of the people I know went through much more than I did. There are 3,000 children missing in New Orleans. [The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children places the figure at 1,300.] Hundreds of bodies are waiting to be identified. The people of New Orleans have been scattered to the four winds. Their lives were determined by people in Washington and Baton Rouge before the storm hit.

Without African Americans having ownership, economic equity and the same type of things the French Quarter gets — like tax cuts — the city will never be the same. The 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th Wards should have their own tourist commission. Build our own hotels and restaurants in those areas. The key is ownership. Then I would think about going back and living there. But we’re still practicing American democracy. How can we ever bring it to somebody else?

CYRIL NEVILLE’s cds include New Orleans Home Cookin’ and Fire This Time,

Excerpted from an interview in the Sun-Times.

 

 

More articles by:

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

June 25, 2019
Rannie Amiri
Instigators of a Persian Gulf Crisis
Patrick Cockburn
Trump May Already be in Too Deep to Avoid War With Iran
Paul Tritschler
Hopeful Things
John Feffer
Deep Fakes: Will AI Swing the 2020 Election?
Binoy Kampmark
Bill Clinton in Kosovo
Kenneth Surin
Brief Impressions of the Japanese Conjuncture
Edward Hunt
Is Mexico Winding Down or Winding up the Drug War?
Manuel E. Yepe
Trump’s Return to Full-Spectrum Dominance
Steve Kelly
Greed and Politics Should Not Drive Forest Policy
Stephen Carpa
Protecting the Great Burn
Colin Todhunter
‘Modified’: A Film About GMOs and the Corruption of the Food Supply for Profit
Martin Billheimer
The Gothic and the Idea of a ‘Real Elite’
Elliot Sperber
Send ICE to Hanford
June 24, 2019
Jim Kavanagh
Eve of Destruction: Iran Strikes Back
Nino Pagliccia
Sorting Out Reality From Fiction About Venezuela
Jeff Sher
Pickin’ and Choosin’ the Winners and Losers of Climate Change
Howard Lisnoff
“Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran”
Robert Fisk
The West’s Disgraceful Silence on the Death of Morsi
Dean Baker
The Old Japan Disaster Horror Story
David Mattson
The Gallatin Forest Partnership and the Tyranny of Ego
George Wuerthner
How Mountain Bikes Threaten Wilderness
Christopher Ketcham
The Journalist as Hemorrhoid
Manuel E. Yepe
Yankee Worship of Bombings and Endless Wars
Mel Gurtov
Iran—Who and Where is The Threat?
Wim Laven
Revisiting Morality in the Age of Dishonesty
Thomas Knapp
Facebook’s Libra Isn’t a “Cryptocurrency”
Weekend Edition
June 21, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Brett Wilkins
A Brief History of US Concentration Camps
Rob Urie
Race, Identity and the Political Economy of Hate
Rev. William Alberts
America’s Respectable War Criminals
Paul Street
“So Happy”: The Trump “Boom,” the Nation’s Despair, and the Decline of Joe Biden
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Ask Your Local Death Squad
Dr. Vandana Shiva
Fake Food, Fake Meat: Big Food’s Desperate Attempt to Further the Industrialisation of Food
Eric Draitser
The Art of Trade War: Is Trump Winning His Trade War against China?
Melvin Goodman
Trump’s Russian Problem
Jonathan Cook
Forget Trump’s Deal of the Century: Israel Was Always on Course to Annexation
Andrew Levine
The Biden Question
Stanley L. Cohen
From Tel Aviv to Tallahassee
Robert Hunziker
Permafrost Collapses 70 Years Early
Kenn Orphan
Normalizing Atrocity
Ajamu Baraka
No Dare Call It Austerity
Ron Jacobs
The Redemptive Essence of History
David Rosen
Is Socialism Possible in America?
Dave Lindorff
The US as Rogue Nation Number 1
Joseph Natoli
The Mad King in His Time
David Thorstad
Why I’m Skipping Stonewall 50
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail