Liberally Conservative

"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free....... ~Ronald Reagan~

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Benefits of Hurricane Katrina...Reality of Economics

John Jurgenson of the Wall Street Journal provides a look inside New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina and the legacy of Jazz. Eyes were opened to the economics residing outside of the Bayou State. For musicians the grass is truly greener on the other side. Mr. Jurgenson writes:
Dozens of musicians who relocated temporarily now say they don't plan to return, in part because they're making better money elsewhere. "New Orleans never treated its musicians well," says Wynton Marsalis, the trumpet player and artistic director of New York's Jazz at Lincoln Center. Some transplanted musicians say they don't expect to attend the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. The high-profile event has taken on special meaning this year, and is being billed as a homecoming for the city's musicians. But Henry Butler, a noted jazz and blues pianist who's played at the festival for years, says he turned down an invitation to play this time. The payment offered was "very insulting," says Mr. Butler. He's been house-hunting lately near Boulder, Colo., where he relocated in the fall. These days, "my paydays are better" than they were in pre-Katrina New Orleans, he says.
Displaced New Orleans musicians say they didn't fully appreciate how much better the financial opportunities were in other cities until the hurricane forced them to relocate. For all but the biggest names, a night's work for a band at a New Orleans club -- typically four hours for two sets -- pays less than $500 a night. Split among an eight- or 10-piece brass band, this can mean as little as $50 a gig.
xxx Traditionally, many New Orleans musicians offset their low wages by joining forces with several bands and performing in up to three venues in a night. Even so, musicians say earning about $20,000 a year was typical in New Orleans. This was partly a function of having so many players in one city; there was always someone else willing to work for less money.
Competition will usually lower prices to consumers but lack of it in New Orleans today has proved helpful for some.
As for the musicians who stayed behind in New Orleans, some have benefited from the thinning of musical competition. Bassist Jeff Tyson says his Ka-Nection Band, which used to play about four nights a week, now works virtually every night as one of the few R&B bands working on Bourbon Street. "That's why I'm spread so thin. There's nobody here," he says. "Clubs fighting over us? Hey, it's about time you see something like that."
Sometimes a disaster uncovers reality. While politicians point fingers and play the blame game new stories unfold. The truth about the poor, crime, graft, and inept politicians in Louisiana was well known.
These stories have come out in greater detail while the facts about New Orleans culture of music must now face the truth and it's real legacy about jazz. Sometimes the grass is greener on the other side and the musicians of New Orleans have discovered that, elsewhere!

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