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The Ponderosa Stomp 2006: Real Blues Magazine

Ron Weinstock
September 24, 2005

Hurricane Katrina has wreaked havoc on the City of New Orleans and much of the Eastern Gulf Coast and as I write this, Hurricane Rita is tearing up the Texas and Louisiana gulf coast area as well as reflooding portions of New Orleans. This is a disaster that is also a cultural disaster as so many musicians have been impacted in New Orleans. There have been many fundraisers on both national and local levels dealing with this aftermath of Katrina and now Rita. New Orleans has seen not only damage to its building but perhaps to its musical community leading perhaps to a musical dispora that will be even greater than the one when the naval Department closed Storyville in 1917. Unless the families of musicians returns to New Orleans and the communities and neighborhoods can grow back, the special character that made New Orleans what it is will never fully return, or if it returns, it will only be a ghost of its glory. Events like the Ponderosa Stomp and the annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival are a reason why many of us consider the Crescent City special, but in fact it is the uniqueness of New Orleans and the relationship of family and community to the music scene that is what made New Orleans so special and that is why this crisis needs to be addressed in so many different ways. We can't simply assist musicians and hope that the scene will return in the absence of the social, business and community infrastructure that sustains it. Support is need for not only traditional ddisaster relief charities like the Red Cross and Salvation Army but also charities focusing on helping musicians like the Music Maker Foundation with a specific fund to aid musicians affected by Katrina (and I assume they will assist those affected now by Rita as well. WWOZ, the New Orleans radio station is continuiing to operate with assistance from WFMU and others and its website,http://www.wwoz.org, has much useful information including links to charities providing assistance in so many ways.
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