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Riffing on the Tradition: Last-minute holiday gifts for music lovers

The apartment is a disaster. There are scraps of wrapping paper, Styrofoam packing peanuts, boxes and bags covering nearly every surface. I think we mailed everything that needs to be mailed, but even though there are still a few people on our list, I’m not worried about it.

Now, if I had to go to a mall in Metairie or to BestBuy or Walmart or something like that, I’d likely have the usual holiday anxieties that many of us get. But spending holidays here in New Orleans, there’s no need to be stressed. Here’s why.

There are two reasons why the gift-giving ritual can be difficult. First, we might have anxiety about our gifts being judged by the gift recipient. Second is the pressure of trying to express ourselves through the gifts we choose.

It was last week, when we opened a Christmas card early, that I started to figure out how to avoid all that. My wife’s cousin and his family, who lived here before the failure of the levees, sent us a membership to the New Orleans Museum of Art.

It’s a brilliant, touching gift on so many levels. The gift simultaneously allows them to express their own love for New Orleans, and also speaks to our shared pride in this heritage-rich city. Though we’re seperated by distance, this gift keeps us connected and unites us in certain shared values such as beauty, history, and culture.

So, it struck me: Especially for musicians and fans of the music, this is a really easy town for holiday shopping. Is there anything as universal as our love for the music of New Orleans?

The cultural currency of music here is manifest in so many different ways, there’s hardly an easier way than by giving the music you love to present your personal identity. Furthermore, the risk of being judged negatively for aligning oneself to the unique qualities of our musical culture is next to nil.

Unfortunately, we don't have a real music store for instruments. Nor do we have a well-organized network of musicians who offer private lessons. Since most of our clubs offer music for free, there aren't many gift certificates for local shows to offer. I suppose you could give a wad of dollar bills for the Frenchmen Street denizen in your life?

Here are a few links to things I did find to finish my shopping. I hope they spare you a trip to the mall as well.

Happy holidays!

Evan Christopher is a noted member of the New Orleans music community and a founding member of Nola Art House Music. Click here for an interview with the artist. He writes “Riffing on the Tradition” for NolaVie.

Evan Christopher is a noted member of the New Orleans music community and advocates for the cultural workforce. Click here for his performance schedule. He writes MAC-Notes for NolaVie. Email him with your comments about cultural issues, particularly in the music world, at [email protected]