• ,

Riffing On the Tradition: 'This Could Be the Start of Something, a 2012 wrap-up

In last week's "riff," my holiday wishes included an appeal to the music community to dig deeper and embrace the potency of our craft. This week, I want to continue with a brief inventory of who's on our side and celebrate the progress we're making.

It's important because, between some pretty dire economic projections and the relentless effects of our violent culture, the artistic community remains the vanguard of social change. For those of you who thought this business was just about helping people have a good time and escape their problems, sorry, you really need to reconsider. If we're not challenging and inspiring ourselves, one another, and our audiences to be better, much better, then how can we claim to be anything more than complicit with the tragic injustices that threaten our humanity?

Yes, we have our work cut out for us. But I'm not trying to make this responsibility sound daunting. I'm only pointing out that our contributions, however small or great, require some focus. Isn't a "New Year" as good a time as any to commit?

In the year ahead, let's begin by raising the bar on our own personal efforts. On the musical front, let's make 2013 the year we connect with other musicians and artists we admire. In a city where more than 1 percent of the population is part of the cultural community, this should be the easy part. On the business front, however, many of us have a long way to go. Since you're reading this, access to technology probably isn't holding you back, but for many others, it is. Please share information about the Tipitina's Music Co-op. In my opinion, it's still one of the most invaluable resources to advance our business and media skills.

Other groups are determined to help us as well, which reminds me: When you have finished reading this, visit Sweet Home New Orleans. There is a new survey that will really help with its goals of empowering a sustainable cultural community. Tell your colleagues, too.

It's time to truly view ourselves as members of the community. Make 2013 the year to have a stake in what culture looks in your part of town by joining your neighborhood's association. We're learning that communication is key, and the Music and Culture Alliance of New Orleans has made great strides in building a united front. There's a reason you're hearing less about the noise ordinance or permit enforcement that seemed to be threatening live music. However, if you have anything to report about anyone in our community being treated poorly, New Orleans Noise still serves as MACCNO's watchdog.

We are fortunate to have many other advocates supporting our work and keeping their eyes on issues pertaining to our city's culture. Professional writers such as Alex Rawls, Jan Ramsey, Robert Morris, and Alex Woodward are among our champions, and of course, I'll continue to do what I can with my friends here at NolaVie. Also, have an ear open to our local radio stations. Some changes are coming and they'll be good for us, I assure you.

Nationally and even internationally, you should know that we are in very good company, too. Initiatives such as Playing for Change and the Creative Community for Peace are examples of organizations that are building bridges with music. Am I leaving some things out? Undoubtedly. It's my way of inviting you to join the dialogue by sharing them here.

I'll bid farewell to 2012 with this inspiring homegrown piece that a friend just passed along. Dig what our own Jonathan Batiste said to CNN about our city's greatest cultural contribution to the world. Meanwhile, I'm off to Israel to see if the dulcet sounds of New Orleans clarinet can cool things out in the Holy Land.

Peace and Happy New Year.

Evan Christopher is a noted member of the New Orleans music community and a founding member of Nola Art House Music. Click here for his holiday performance schedule. 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]