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Riffing On the Tradition: Thanks a million

It was autumn 1994 when I moved here 18 years ago to be a member of the New Orleans music community. I remember so little about that first Thanks-having here. (The next one was more memorable, when I attempted Martha Stewart's turkey recipe for my then-future-ex-wife's family.)

Over subsequent years, I have amassed wonderful memories, including opening days at the Fairgrounds, pot-lucks and jam sessions on the bayou, and breaking bread with friends and family for whom that distinction has become erroneous.

I've also spent quite a few holidays on the road, including this year, when I'll be in Martinique for the 26th "Festival de la Clarinette." But, before I go, I want to use this opportunity to give my thanks to the city that I call home.

I have so many reasons to thank the musicmakers in New Orleans. The music I came here to study and perform has become such a deep, important part of my values and identity. The grooves give me inspiration, the music's spirit of community gives me a sense of purpose, the affirmation that people all over the world find in the New Orleans sound gives me hope.

Thank you, cats. I love you all.

For those of you who follow New Orleans music and feel similarly, I'm happy to remind you of some easy ways to give thanks.

First, true, I don't think much of "passing the hat" as a substitute for a proper wage, but if you're out hearing free music and a bucket gets waved in front of you, be generous. On that note, purchase recorded music that makes you happy. Buy multiple copies of CDs and spread our gospel.

Do you have business or technical skills that can help your favorite musicians? Take a little time and offer to help them improve their presence, real or virtual, especially if it's some aspect of marketing or self-promotion they hate doing.

Even simpler yet, just listen more carefully. Engage on a deeper level and, after a show, tell them what you heard in a magic moment. Compliment them; don't withhold what they mean to you, how they challenge you, or how meaningful you find the experience of hearing them.

Little gifts are nice, although drinks are banal and, frankly, not really that constructive. I remember one of my best fans used to give his favorite musicians socks at jazz festivals. My, how proud we were to show our natty ankles when we would see him at other performances.

It's cliché, but the little things mean a lot. On behalf of our music community, we're thankful for you, and it's our honor and pleasure to share our music with you.

Have a great holiday.

Evan Christopher, a noted member of the New Orleans music community, writes “Riffing on the Tradition” for NolaVie. His columns also are archived at Clarinet Road.com.

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]