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Music Review: The Musicians Of New Orleans City Of Dreams: A Collection Of New Orleans Music

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What one President giveth another President takes away could be a political axiom in the United States, but I don't think in the history of the country has there been as obvious an example as the fate of Louisiana, specifically her jewel of a city New Orleans.

In what is now seen as one of the all time real estate deals ever, the United States under President Thomas Jefferson purchased Louisiana from the French. Now more then 200 years later it seems that George Bush is willing to let New Orleans be sold out from under the people who lived there and in the process, destroy the soul of not only the state but maybe even the United States.

Ever since Hurricane Katrina destroyed the working poor and poor neighbourhoods of New Orleans; home to all the housing projects and subsidized housing in the city as well as housing the majority of the city's black population, it's become painfully obvious that there is no intention of allowing those people ever to move back into their old neighbourhoods.

Oh there have been announcements from the political bosses saying things like "you can't expect us to build anything for these people if they don't move back?' Well you can't expect them to move back if there's nowhere for them to live either.

In the meantime, the number of public schools in New Orleans has been reduced to four while 34 private "charter" schools have been approved. So, if the thousands of people from places like ninth ward ever do move back – what's there going to be for them? Four schools in a horribly under funded public education system to send their children to in the hopes of them getting something that passes for an education? That's not exactly encouraging people to move back home again, is it?
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One of the hardest hit groups in the community were the musicians of New Orleans. The world watched and listened for news of Fats Domino when it was discovered he was missing in the floodwaters when the levees broke and breathed a sigh of relief when he was found safe and sound. It was story repeated time after time amongst the musical community of New Orleans, watching their lives and livelihood float away in the post Katrina floods.

Recording studios lost master tapes with 40 years or more of musical history and their ability to produce new music; clubs and small performance venues lost sound systems, along with the rest of their facilities, and every musician lost if not their home, prized possessions and memorabilia.

The loss of recording and performing facilities though has to have been the worst blow to the musical community of New Orleans. Prior to Katrina there had been enough work performing in clubs spread all throughout the city for the city's musicians to make a living, but now with them closed, and most still ages away from re-opening, if they ever will again, those days appear gone forever.

Just over 25 years ago Rounder Records began recording the artists of New Orleans. In that time they have recorded and presented music to the rest of the world that previously could only have been experienced by going to the city. They became the first label to record the Brass Bands and the other street music live during the weekly performance/parades that wended their way through Ninth Ward and the other Black neighbourhoods.
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Like so many other producers and companies have discovered when they've started recording an area's music, Rounder was astounded at the amount of amazing talent that had never been recorded or heard beyond the borders of their city. They took it upon themselves to do their best to record as many of these groups, individuals, bands, and street performers as possible.

Not surprisingly over the years, they have amassed miles of tape of four of the musical types we associate with New Orleans. As a retrospective of their over quarter century of recording, preserving, and creating memories they have put together a four disc CD set City Of Dreams: A Collection Of New Orleans Music.

Each disc represents one of the four genres they've recorded over the years: Blues ("Big Easy Blues"), Street Bands and Performers ("Street Beat)", Funk ("Funky New Orleans"), and the unique piano styles of the city come to life on "Ivory Emperors".

About Richard Marcus

Richard Marcus is the author of two books commissioned by Ulysses Press, "What Will Happen In Eragon IV?" (2009) and "The Unofficial Heroes Of Olympus Companion". Aside from Blogcritics his work has appeared around the world in publications like the German edition of Rolling Stone Magazine and the multilingual web site He has been writing for since 2005 and has published around 1900 articles at the site.