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Welcome, Neighbors

Houston's music community responds to an unprecedented influx of talent

This is a historic moment for Houston. Never before has any city's entire music scene -- still less one as rich, historic and vibrant as that of New Orleans -- been forced to evacuate their hometown, and dozens of them are now in Houston. Here are some ways we can help them through their stay here.

Jazzman Paul English, with able assists from Gigi Hill, Johan Keus, Tianna Hall and Steve Sucher, has set up an aid society for them called NOAH (New Orleans and Houston), and as of this writing, 19 New Orleans musicians had signed up for the group's services, which include help finding housing, instruments and gigs, and easing their lives here in any way possible. If you can donate time, money, housing or anything else (they especially need cell phones right now), call the give-help hot line at 713-522-2299. If you are a New Orleans musician and need a hand, call the get-help hot line at 713-805-9118. NOAH also can accept financial donations through checks made out to the Houston Musicians Benevolent Society. Make your checks out to MBS and put "NOAH" in the memo line. The group's mailing address is P.O. Box 981024, Houston, TX 77098-8024, and their Web site is at www.noahleans.org. (Louisiana musicians are invited to drop in on NOAH. The organization's physical address is 401 Louisiana Street at Preston, suite 408.)

The group already has contacted almost 30 musicians, and more are turning up every day, so check back often. For club owners looking to book some of the talent, or bands looking for help, or (in many cases) students looking for teachers, here's a rundown of what they had on the site as of Tuesday, September 6. You can get all their contact info at either NOAH's Web site or their own band sites.

Before we get to the musicians' directory, I'd like to share an idea: Someone should either open a new club or turn their current struggling club over to all New Orleans music all the time. Make it a Tipitina's in Exile of sorts. Hire New Orleans staffers for the bar, hire New Orleans bands for the stage, serve New Orleans food, cater to exiled New Orleanians in every way. The evacuees need a community center and a reminder of home -- and nothing says home like music for New Orleanians.

The Last Saints are an acoustic folk-rock band led by Houston native/current New Orleanian Dave Thies. Check out their Web site at www.thelastsaints.com.

Dennis De Bruler is a trumpet player in the New Orleans band the Boogiemen, who cover everything from Sinatra to the Tower of Power. His band's Web site is www.boogiemen-nola.com.

Dwight Breland is a country guitarist, singer and pedal steel player. He's looking for both gigs and session work.

Frank Martinez is a classically trained pianist and Catholic church choir director/organist who has also played in a rock/variety band on Bourbon Street for the past 12 years.

Jeanne Jaubert is a classical cellist. She offers lessons.

Jeff "Guitar" Nelson leads a hardworking New Orleans blues band. His Web site is www.jeffguitarnelson.com.

Jim Markway is a bassist who can play electric, fretless and stand-up. He has 30 years' experience playing 350 to 450 gigs a year and has taught bass at Tulane for 15 years. His Web site is www.jimmarkway.com.

Johnette Downing is a national award-winning performer of children's music, specializing in pre-K through third-graders. Her Web site is www.johnettedowning.com.

Johnny Vidacovich is a legend of New Orleans-style, second-line funk, one of the best drummers New Orleans -- a city famed for its beats -- has produced. He is a member of Astral Project and has played with Johnny Adams, Professor Longhair, Mose Allison, James Booker, Alvin "Red" Tyler, Charlie Rich and Charles Neville. He has also taught drums at Tulane and the University of New Orleans for a combined 25 years. His Web site is www.johnnyvidacovich.com.

Kim Carson is a rare bird: a honky-tonk singer from New Orleans. She had already been gigging here fairly steadily, so many of you might be familiar with her. Her Web site is www.kimcarson.com.

Rex Gregory is a 21-year-old sax player and HSPVA grad who has been continuing his jazz studies in New Orleans. While there, he had already played with many of the cream of the new generation of New Orleans jazz, including Nicholas Payton, Adonis Rose, Jason Marsalis and Irvin Mayfield.

Rob Lee is a drummer who can play zydeco, reggae, funk and R&B.

Robert Nunez is a tuba player who can play either classical or jazz.

Ron Darcey is a jazz/R&B/funk drummer.

Scott Frischhertz is yet another drummer with a jazz background, but he stresses that he can play just about any style. He has played in numerous Bourbon Street bands as well as the groups Impulse and Harvey Jesus. He doubles as a soundman and has plied that trade at several of the top clubs in the Quarter for the past 12 years.

Sharon Janae' Riolo is a vocalist who is also an accountant. She is looking for work in either field.

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