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.
Steve Masakowski is a guitarist and an Astral Project bandmate of Vidacovich and another Big Easy legend. He has played in concert with Woody Shaw, Jimmy Smith and Dianne Reeves and has recorded with Reeves, Mose Allison, "Red" Tyler and Rick Margitza. He has received two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and numerous grants from the state of Louisiana.
Timmy Wells plays guitar and sings for both adults in nightclubs and casinos and kids in schools.
Versatile bassist Aaron Anthony can provide a bottom-end for a variety of genres, and what's more, he's a licensed gestalt therapist. He's offering free therapy for displaced musicians.
Louisiana Philharmonic member Dmitri Vychko is a cellist and a pianist and is offering lessons in both. His wife, Irina, is a classical pianist and she too is offering lessons. Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Helen Gillet is another cellist who can play both European classical and North Indian classical.
Jack Locke is a guitarist who can play blues, rock, folk, anti-folk and funk. He had a steady gig at New Orleans coffeehouse Fair Grinds. His Web site is www.jacklocke.com.
Joe Lilly is the drummer in the Zydepunks, New Orleans's only "Cajun Irish Breton klezmer Slavic zydeco" band. Greg Harbar, give this man a call. His e-mail is email@example.com.
Lucius R. Weathersby is an assistant professor of music and African studies at Dillard University, a concert pianist and organist, and also a conductor and composer. He is seeking concerts and work in academia, where he also has experience in administration. His e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tanio Hingle is the leader of the New Birth Brass Band. For more information about him, see below.
Beginning this week, the benefit shows and other music-related events will be coming fast and furious. Here is a partial rundown -- check back here for updates. Go to at least one or two and give generously.
The Buzz 94.5 FM is taking paid requests, and the proceeds are being given to storm victims. The more offbeat the request, the more it will cost you, so pony up the big bucks and force 'em to play you some William Shatner or something. And if you're in a local band and want to hear the Buzz play your stuff, now's your chance to engage in the same payola the big boys use to keep you off the air.
Thursdays and Sundays, at Sammy's at 2016 Main, New Orleans' own New Birth Brass Band will play at 5 p.m. (Thursdays) and 8 p.m. (Sundays). The New Birth is the official band of the New Orleans Saints (they play in the stands at all home games) and incorporate Mardi Gras Indian chants, hip-hop, traditional Dixieland jazz and funk into the sort of music that is the soul of the Crescent City. Back in December, when the band played at Under the Volcano, I predicted that they would rattle the fillings out of your teeth, and they can pretty much do just that. Do not miss these shows! (And note, as of press time bandleader Tanio Hingle was still missing a trumpet, a trombone and a marching bass drum with mallets, so if you have any of those, please contact him at the number below.)
The series could start as early as September 8 and will probably start by September 15. Call the club at 713-751-3101 or check the Web site at www.sammysat2016main.com for more info. (To book the New Birth at your own club, private party or football game, call Hingle at 504-723-4801.)
Late-breaking news: Trumpet player-singer Kermit Ruffins, the one man other than Dr John who embodies New Orleans music in the minds of most Americans right now, will play both Thursday and Sunday at Sammy's with the New Birth. (That's Ruffins in the recent New Orleans ad campaign you've seen on TV.) Also, the various scattered members of Ruffins's former band -- the Rebirth Brass Band -- are all making their way to Houston. (Members of the Little Rascals Brass Band are also in town and will play with the New Birth at some of these shows.) Bryson Neville of the Neville family will also be there. For all New Orleans shows, there is a minimum contribution of $5 and a suggested donation of $20. Sammy's will be Tremé, Texas, for the next few weeks, so like we said, don't miss it.
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 7
Tiki Bay Bar & Grill -- 2651 Highway 146 S. Business in Baytown, 281-837-6700. New Orleans honky-tonk singer Kim Carson and local singer-songwriter Mark Zeus will co-host a jam session benefiting displaced musicians.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 8
Club Roxy, 5351 W. Alabama at S. Rice, 713-850-ROXY. Hurban superstars Frankie J, Baby Bash, Natalie, Play-N-Skillz and Rob G and the SWAT Click will perform a benefit for the American Red Cross's Katrina relief effort. No cover -- $20 donation to the Red Cross. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.
Cosmos Cafe, 69 Heights, 713-802-2144. New Orleans Happy Hour, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Plan to have dinner, or just stop by for a few drinks. Cosmos has a great dinner menu and a full bar. New Orleans musicians will be playing and accepting donations. No cover, heavy tipping is encouraged.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 9
The Orange Show (not a benefit, and primarily for New Orleanians) There will be a gathering/reunion of New Orleans' folk art community. Organizer Robert Thompson would like to invite "all Fair Grinds employees, friends, regulars, irregulars and Faubourg St. John neighbors" to meet at the Orange Show. Directions are on their Web site, www.orangeshow.org.
The Rhythm Room, 1815 Washington Ave., 713-864-6962. Benefit for Katrina victims. The New Birth Brass Band headlines an event that also includes sets by the Psychodillos, Swamp Snake String Band, Liquidous, All-Star Jam featuring members of Plump, Mezclan and more. 100 percent of door proceeds to be donated to local shelters.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 10
Last Concert Cafe, 1403 Nance, 713-226-8563. A Sunset Benefit Concert for Katrina victims. Zwee, Skyblue72, Best Kept Secret and more. 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Numbers, 300 Westheimer, 713-526-6551. Day one of Houston ROCKS for Hurricane Katrina Relief, 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday's lineup includes Michael Haaga & the Plus and Minus Show, Spain Colored Orange, Bring Back the Guns, Arthur Yoria, Heist at Hand, and Sharks and Sailors. Suggested cash donation of $8 for one night and $12 for two. Attendees are also encouraged to bring a toy for an evacuee child. All cash donations and bar profits will benefit the McCormick Tribune Foundation Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund, the American Red Cross and local charities supporting Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. Donations of clothing, canned goods and toiletries are also welcome.
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Both days of the show are all-ages. For Sunday's lineup, see below.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 11
Continental Club, 3700 Main, 713-529-9899. Musician Benefit for Hurricane Katrina Victims, live music and barbecue. Music lineup includes Joe King Carrasco, Norma Zenteno, John Evans, Jug o' Lightnin', Lisa Novak, Luxurious Panthers, Lanky, Small Sounds, Zydeco Dots, Orange Is In, Chris Sacco (Dune*TX), Mike Conde, Clay Farmer, Lee Alexander and more. 3 p.m. to midnight.
Numbers day two of Houston ROCKS for Hurricane Katrina Relief. Music lineup includes Camino, deSangre, Inner Lights (formerly the John Sparrow), Dune*TX, Deafening, Melovine, Pale and Hellfire Revival.