DO you Even like your “old timey” band?



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When you were a glue-sniffing teen stealing liquor from your parents’ liquor cabinet, were your anti-authoritarian acts of revelry done to the sound of freight train inspired King Oliver covers? Were you the kid who celebrated a good crime-spree by jumping in the car and raging to Ella Fitzgerald at full blast?

No, you were listening to The Replacements or The Butthole Surfers, or whatever brand of party-punk/alternative-metal lit a fire under your ass at the time. Fueled by puberty, angst, and all the drugs you could get your grubby mitts on, the washboard wasn’t high on your list of priorities. Maybe you were even a good student, shying away from drugs and alcohol until college. Maybe you were still listening to No Doubt.

Yet somehow you ended up in New Orleans with some modicum of proficiency at the banjo, nestled up behind the Walmart with whatever V.D. ridden gutter punk could stand your stench, a pocket full of whiskey and whatever drugs you could afford on your mama’s budget. You found the museum of culture that is New Orleans. One which enslaves its own populace to preserving a replica of a time which, ironically, actually rewarded creativity. You convinced yourself that taking money from tourists is “punk rock”, and not in fact the model of commerce which was laid out for you by our elected officials.

So here you are in your three to five piece folk ensemble belching out uninspired standards that you’d never even heard of before somebody taught you how to play the jazz. Those of you who were listening to metal in the high school parking lot, smoke billowing out your van windows, the live-free-diehard punks, the misfits and the freaks, was it really your life ambition to play old time folk and jazz? If not, then what the fuck possesses you to keep doing it?

I have to believe that the only reason you started playing music from the get go was because you at least felt yourself to be a creative individual. So where’s the creativity? Why did you let go of your dream? Was it the money? What if I were to tell you that there are more financially lucrative endeavors than playing old time jazz? You could be a dentist, or a lawyer, or an accountant—sure, they all require a little time back at school, but how many hours have you wasted practicing that clarinet? Hell, do you have any clue how much you can get paid to be a garbage collector? You’re not creating anything worthwhile anyway, and no one is going to remember you for that uninspired rendition of Cry Me A River.

It is time to wake up and realize that preserving New Orleans culture does not equate to the soulless crushing of its stagnant remains. It has always been perseverance, not resilience, that defined New Orleans’ culture.

You’ve got two options, rabble rouser: shit or get off the pot. Make something new, or shut the fuck up. Your band won’t care if you bow out—if they have any sense, they’ll congratulate you. More likely, they’ll just find a sub and forget about you. After all, even in your own twisted sense of self importance, you are still expendable; you, and everyone else in this town, who plays old time jazz and folk.