RIP RL BURNSIDE


In the wake of the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina, I have found myself (much like everyone else I suppose), wondering what will happen to the great city of New Orleans. Even with the relief efforts, and the generous donations from people all across the world, where can the people with nothing go?

This isn't a situation that will correct itself. There is no easy answer. Thousands of people will be left homeless, with no insurance, no job and in reality, no city to live in. For people like me, it is a lot easier. I can remember how great the city of New Orleans was, and just realize it will be a few years before I head back. But what will I be heading back to? Already, rumor has it that the Saints may NEVER play there again. Jazz fest seems like such a minor blip on the radar of the city, and much like everyone else in the world, I am not sure if I know what lies ahead. It is possible that NO will become a wasteland, and much like the coastal boardwalks of California in the late 70, become nothing but memories hidden by debris.

This post is more or less dedicated to the city of New Orleans and blues legend RL Burnside (who passed away at the age of 78). In 2001, I drove to the Big Easy with my friends Lexi and Pete. The 20 hour drive seemed like a blink of the eye, and before I knew it I was experiencing my first Jazz Fest. We saw great music, and soaked in the history of the city. Instantly, I fell in love with Nawleans. Eating Crawdads and paella, sucking back hurricanes and watching women lift up there shirt for a simple string of $2 beads: I clearly wasn't in Kansas anymore.

On a lovely cinqo de mayo evening, the three of us went to see RL Burnside and Galactic play. We drank Corona, and watched RL tear through one of the best sets of music I have ever seen. He played with his son Cedric on drums, and the hip hop drumming combined with the traditional blues guitar and vocals had the whole place dancing. Maybe it sounds cliche to write now, but I can remember looking around that small bar and realizing even after two days, New Orleans had a special place in my heart. RL, much like the city itself, was a beautiful combination of spirit and funk, steeped in the traditions that are needed to make anything a thing of value.

I can't begin to explain the situation in NO. The looting, the fires, the raping, the death, the destruction, the lack of government response - all of these things are beyond what I can process. Simply getting emails from my friend Thanh, and hearing that he and his wife are currently forced to fend for themselves in Houston, and knowing they are 1000000X better of than a lot of the poor, unfortunate people who couldn't leave, is more than I can comprehend. I have tried to picture how I would react. I have tried to say I wouldn't become a savage like some of the citizens of the city, but all I can think of is that, quite simply, I can't even pretend to think of how I would cope.

With all the tragedy Hurrican Katrina delivered on the great city of New Orleans, it only seems fitting that one of my greatest memories of my time there, also passed on. RL, your passing is sad, but the fact I could be watching the death of one of the greatest cities in the world, and maybe a whole nation is even scarier,


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