Tonight, I went to hear the Preservation Hall Jazz Band at the Redlands Bowl. It was a beautiful, balmy evening; the music was raunchy and clangy and joyful, but I found it very moving, too. As the trumpet player sang love songs to New Orleans with his raspy voice, I was so grateful that the music of the city has survived and flourished when so much else has been lost. I still hope to go to New Orleans some day, to help with the rebuilding effort either with my hands or my tourist dollars (or both). The Preservation Hall website has a link where you can donate to directly aid musicians who were affected by Katrina last year.
It's hard to believe it hasn't even been a year since the hurricane; it's already left so many people's thoughts, it seems. I have been following New Orleans' author Poppy Z Brite's blog as she continues to cope with the aftermath of all of it. It's a good window into that broken region. Voices of Witness is currently putting together an oral history of Katrina survivors; you can read a few excerpts from the interviews on their website. It's so important to keep these stories (and this music!) alive.