August 2010 marked the fifth anniversary of Katrina and the flooding of New Orleans, the city that birthed American music. Almost immediately after the storm, musicians were some of the first to respond: they traveled to New Orleans to aid in rescue work and produced benefits that raised significant funds and awareness for the relief effort. Five years later, musicians continue to demonstrate their commitment to this city by working to ensure that local musicians, many of whom are the tradition bearers of this vital culture, are able to remain and thrive in New Orleans. This panel will give an overview of the state of the music community pre-Katrina, how Katrina, the floods and the response impacted musicians and their way of life directly after the storm, how community organizations and advocates have focused efforts to serve the music community, how musicians from all over the country have worked to support and promote these efforts, and what more can be done to ensure this important city, her people and culture can thrive. Wayne Kramer said after participating in a series of artist-activism retreats in New Orleans (produced by ATC), "Go to New Orleans and meet the folks down there. Talk with them, eat with them, work alongside them and then play music with them and for them... Anyone that calls themselves a musician owes a debt to New Orleans..."
DEYDEN TETHONG understands the power of music: As a young Tibetan, she saw millions learn about her country while working on the Tibetan Freedom Concerts with the Beastie Boys. Today she connects musicians to social change through Air Traffic Control, a nonprofit providing activist and philanthropic support to musicians. Her work includes producing retreats in New Orleans, bringing national musicians together to learn from the city and each other how to be more effective activists.
JORDAN HIRSCH is a native of New Orleans and an advocate for its cultural tradition bearers. He was the founding Executive Director of Sweet Home New Orleans, a non-profit organization serving the city's music community. Currently, he is consulting on the HBO series "Treme."
THAO NGUYEN is a musician and songwriter and the frontwoman of the indie folk band Thao with the Get Down Stay Down. She lives in San Francisco and tours the country playing music and looking for fresh produce. In 2010, Thao travelled to New Orleans with ATC and Future of Music Coalition to participate in their artist-activism retreat. In addition to discussing a range of efforts around activism, advocacy and music, Thao, along with musicians from across the country, spent time with local musicians and community organizers exploring how the city and communities of New Orleans have been affected by the floods, how they are rebuilding and what still needs to happen.
JON LANGFORD is a founding member of legendary British rock band the Mekons. A native of South Wales, Langford now lives in Chicago. He continues to play with the Mekons, as well as Chicago band the Waco Brothers. In addition to his music, Langford is an accomplished artist and writer. Langford has spent time in New Orleans pre and post Katrina and is an alumni of the New Orleans Artist Activist Retreats.
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