They Happen Ever Day, But Here are Some Memorable Moments From the Last 3 Years
The Great Southwest Toy Sleigh Ride
Bringing the Great Southwest Holiday Toy Sleigh Ride for musicians’ children - the airline gave the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund space to bring 200 pounds of toys home post-Katrina.
We also mailed many toys out to displaced musicians’ kids. With the extra toys, WWOZ DJ and drummer Bob French announced that parents could pull up out front of the studio while we distributed everything from skateboards to dolls from our truck. Bob’s now out of his FEMA trailer and we just delivered his new couch as a Saints game was starting.
We're pleased that Bob's living in Habitat for Humanity's Musicians Village, couch and all.
Dr. John's Solo Show at the Black Orchid
Dr. John surprising Wardell Quezergue with his Grammy Certificate for "Dis, Dat and D'Other" at a Black Orchid benefit. REM’s Mike Mills and his former label-mate Jeff both took turns at bass, and Mike ripped out a surprise solo on “Little Liza Jane” with the NOmrf All-Stars.
"They didn't warn me about that," Mike said, laughing. "They said it turned out well, and if those cats liked it, then I must be doing something right. "That was one of the more amazing evenings I've ever spent." (Keith Spera NOLA.com article).
Hosting the Katrina Anti-Versaries
Hosting a Katrina Anti-Versary with a lineup of 9 of New Orleans’ finest bands including Twangorama (at right), Woodenhead, Kirk Joseph's Backyard Groove, Bob French's Original Tuxedo Jazz Band, Susan Cowsill, James Andrews Band including Joe Krown, The Rev. Goat Carson and more. Reuters described Leah Chase who was happy for any occasion to "Get out of my FEMA trailor." The Howlin' Wolf generously offered its space. The following year Carrolton Station (With Mike Mills and the Rolling Elvi) hosted the event with artists singing their ReDefine 8/29 Download tracks. This year there was no event as Hurricane Gustav was bearing down on New Orleans at the time, but we were working with Furnishing Our Neighbors' ReDefine 8/29 Furniture Sale at $8 and $29.
1,400 Mile Walk -Welcoming Joe Topping With the Voodoo Vixens
Greeting Liverpool musician Joe Topping in New Orleans 3 months after he walked from Chicago. And meeting the Voodoo Vixens who threw Joe a quality Wyndham welcome after his 1400 mile hike. Best quote: “I don’t like walking anymore. I’ve gone off walking.”
Joe helped NOMRF bring instruments to Alonzo Bowens of Martin Luther King, Jr. Charter School Band. Alonzo as the music instructor Jerome from the Hot 8 who stayed in our free Nomrf Apartment. While home, we also brought instruments to Lusher School and Leroy Jones. Joe made it back for the Katrina Anti-Versary. (Joe Topping Podcast)
Wilco Meeting the All-Stars On-Stage
Becoming one of two beneficiaries of Wilco's Auditorium Theater benefit in Chicago. The Auditorium Theater generously donated its facility and Wilco has been an invaluable NOMRF supporter from day one. An amazing all-star band from New Orleans opened for Wilco. Musicians included Leroy Jones, George French, Craig Klein, Cranston Clements, Joe Krown, James Andrews, Alonzo Bowens and Brian Barberot. They've played with legends including Dr. John, the late great Gatemouth Brown, Harry Connick, Jr., and Pete Fountain. Funds raised from the show dramatically increased what NOMRF can do for musicians. The New Orleans All-Stars played a second show at FitzGerald's in Berwyn, Illinois and kept the scorching sets going for hours. Both nights were a great example of why it's essential to preserve New Orleans music - the soul of the city. Our friends Wilco, REM and Dr. John have been great supporters of New Orleans Musicians.
Barry Cowsill’s Memorial
Purchasing replacement instruments for the New Wave Brass Band before they played Jeff’s former bandmate Barry Cowsill’s memorial second-line. Barry was lost to the storm. The city was kind enough to waive all fees so Nomrf just paid for the police escort.
And hearing Barry's siblings Susan, Bob, John and in-law Vicki sing “Indian Lake,” and Jeff Beninato and Susan do “Chain You Down,” one of Barry’s wonderful originals, at Kerry’s Irish Pub in his memory. (Barry Cowsill Podcast).
During Jazzfest, Nomrf showed the Korean Broadcast System the current state of New Orleans. Their broadcast, one of the top rated Korean documentaries, included Leah Chase’s impromptu tune and Tony “Oulaboula” Basley (left with Kelvin) drumming in the Ninth Ward. He said, “We are a happy people. We’re just having a problem right now.” Leah's family's Dookie Chase's Restaurant will be open again soon. That same week, Nomrf sponsored Waveland band Tree Logic for the Americorps volunteers who have been helping gut our homes. (Jazzfest Photo Page).
Message From the Founder
If you think this tragedy is over think again. There are still families out there in corners of this country trying to figure out what they are going to do to get their lives back to some normalcy. There are so many musicians who were well known in New Orleans that are totally unknown where they are now. Imagine building your fanbase or your work base in your workplace and suddenly it all disappears.Thanks to everyone who helped, every step of the way. That was a beautiful thing.
(Jeff Beninato grew up in the 9th Ward and played bass on Bourbon Street. A former member of the dB's, the Stragglers with the late Barry Cowsill (at right), and Bryan Lee Blues Power Band, he produced Little Queenie and Twangorama. Four months after the levees failed, he and his wife Karen settled in the Midwest.)