Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Ninth Ward Underground

For every band that has "made it" there is a community of artists that helped that band grow. Quintron and Miss Pussycat are no exception. Except, the creator of the Drum Buddy and his puppeteering wife have difficulty tracking down their community these days. That's because it went through hell on earth - courtesy of Mother Nature, a Republican Guard negligent of its under class, a corrupt city politic, and racial tensions fueled by ignorance and poverty.

New York Night Train has done a terrific job shining a light on that music community in its third issue. I remain impressed with JT's NYNT and I think you will be too. Go check it out for an in depth look at New Orlean's Ninth Ward Underground music community - how they dealt with Hurricane Katrina and how they are dealing with the aftermath. Be sure to read the Oral History section which regretably in this issue is not download-able in mp3 format. Nevertheless Jonathan Toubin's writing skills at capturing the voice of these musicians is top notch, particularly the hilarious vernacular of MC Trachiotomy:

Just after most recently turning 80 years of age. They say the woist herracanne ever was gown hit Neworleans floods ever thang wind all‚at. Nah look here, I aint neva left fa no storm. I was trew betsy. I was trew Camille. I been trew all at. Ma dawgs was wit me anyhow. I help load up H.F.S, w/Stella & Man~Ting, mz.Fis wit her Doris, and Chris freaky fryer Hair dyer. Cause they was headed for the hills ya undastand. I was in. Where was I gwanna go anyhow?

The Oral History mp3 downloads are missed but NYNT makes available some ninth ward music. I like the lot, but the Detonation songs stand out because they rock and because the band broke up as a direct result of Katrina. Crooks and Nannies' Into the Water has acadian flavor. It sounds like something you might hear on AM radio as you drive across the Atchafalaya Swamp, maybe something eminating from Fred's in Big Mamou on a Saturday morning. EP's Parle' Gras has some Funky Meters influence, oh yeah I like it me too. Fun!

What's not entirely fun (although sometimes funny) are the horror stories these artists tell. Go, read for yourself, my friends.

Miss O: On our tour, Walt, Jay and I would sadly joke about every city we passed through, “Nope, this isn’t the city, I could never live here.” The truth is, the last remaining threads of our lives in New Orleans seem to be better than any other home we could imagine in the states. But in the near future I think we’ll think about New Orleans as a base to travel from, instead of home. And the feeling that we are homeless, in constant search of the city we adored passionately, I think will continue for years to come, if not for the rest of our lives. Despite all of this, there is a shred of hope in my heart that things won’t turn out as bad as our minds imagine... After all, the world is a crazy place.

*photo courtesy of New York Night Train - Lefty Parker Collection

6 comments:

Justin said...

Wow, look at all those white faces.

Kilian said...

How clever.

Justin said...

C'mon, Kilian, there is a photo of the "Ninth Ward Marching Band." They may all live in the Ninth Ward, so it may be technically accurate, but how representative of the Ninth Ward are they really? It would seem that you would have to try to assemble a group of white people that large from the Ninth Ward. This just speaks volumes about indie rock cliquesterism. There they are with all this rich musical history and all they do is talk to each other. In fact, I went through the NYNT feature of all the Ninth Ward musicaians and you would think by reading it, that the only musicains in the Ninth Ward were these hipsters. I read their accounts and couldn't help but think that they were a bunch of suburban hard life wannabes. Maybe they aren't, but the way it's presented here, they are just like any other hipster clique in any other city.

Kilian said...

I see where you're coming from brother. It's just that this group puts the tragedy into a perspective I can relate to. What better way to identify with the poor black struggle?

The 9th Ward Marching Band is celebrating its 10th Year Anniversary this year.

Anonymous said...

The 9th Ward marching band isn't about presenting Black culture. It is about a bunch of people in the Ninth Ward that like to make marching band music. They don't claim to represent all the 9th Ward. Lots of white people live here; the Bywater and Marigny are largely white, other parts of the ward have mostly Black but some white. Some parts are exclusively Black. We don't have to make everything we do about living up to some liberal idea of "Negro Authenticity" and "White Bogusness"; this band is just some people having fun and doing their thing. Don't like their music or schtick? Fine. Don't go out to see them. But leave the pc agenda behind in the 20th century.
Ninth ward has tons of great all-black brass bands. I love their shows and see them when I can. Don't care much for the 9th Ward Marching Band, but the smugness and self-loathing of "Wow, look at all those white faces" is ridiculous.

Kilian said...

Yeah I went through the Ninth Ward in December. I was surprised to find it as diverse a community as it is compared to the single focus the media has given it since Katrina.