Thursday, June 24, 2010

New Orleans Brass Bands: "New Mayor, New Rules"

When out photographing brass bands in the French Quarter, a police officer came along and dispersed the crowd and the brass street band. When I asked what was going on he told me, "New Mayor, new rules."

I have lived in many places in the United States and one troubling trend I have seen in areas that are popular with the public is the sanitation or Disneying of the areas. New Orleans is renowned worldwide for its music, not only in the bars and paid venues, but on the streets. Raw, grass roots music from the streets. Street music for many young musicians, especially from the ghetto, is their way to raise themselves out of a culture of drugs, guns, and murder. Jobs are at a minimum in New Orleans, the trade schools are still closed, the murder rate for young black men between 15 and 30 high. The street brass bands ad ambiance and a joie de vie to the Quarter. There are other street minstrels that play on the streets of New Orleans who come from all over the country, just a few weeks ago I met a young man from Arkansas who was playing the banjo in the Maringy, his talent was phenomenal. He had come to the city of dreams, New Orleans.

I understand that there are complaints from the neighbors about the music playing. - the noise. I wonder how someone can choose to live in the French Quarter in New Orleans and expect a curfew of quiet - especially on a weekend night. I also have heard bar and restaurant owners who have venues of music complain that the tourist can listen to music for free on the streets - I fail to see how a street brass band will take away and not add to the tourists desire for more music at a sitting comfortably with a drink or food, at a table in a French Quarter bar/restaurant.

A friend of mine who is a tour guide shared this with me. "It is such a great experience to see the people who come in for the tours when the first arrive and hear the brass bands on the street. It adds to the ambiance of the New Orleans experience."

By the by - street artists and vendors are also being affected. One means is by not issuing any more street licences. New Orleans will it soon be Disney Jazz South?

Young Fellas Brass Band being dispersed by NOLA Police

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