Tuesday, February 8, 2011

"The truest expression of a people is in its dance and music." - Agnes de Mille

Photo: Rachel DeHayes, Royal Street Folk Musicians

Drawing from my amateur background in anthropology, I can vouch for Agnes de Mille in her assertion about the importance of music and dance in a people's culture. Music is a unique medium through which one human can release raw energy and emotion and feel assured that his message with be received with its full intent through the ears of another human. Performer or listener, musician or groupie, perfect pitch or tone deaf, native language or foreign, music crosses all barriers to tell the story of human spirit and passion.

In very few cities do street performers earn (almost) as much respect for their talent as do professionals on a stage; and of course, New Orleans is one of those cities. Touring through the French Quarter, you'll find a bucket drummer on one corner, an eight-piece brass band on another, an a capella gospel singer outside a store front, and a six-piece folk band two blocks further down the road. Sure, some of these people could be beggars looking for their next meal, but among the nonsense are true musicians just looking for an audience with which to share their craft.

Yet, in New Orleans, this long-held tradition of street performance continues to face political controversy. Are the musicians too loud? Do they play too late? Should they even be allowed to play music on the streets at all? Or do they have the right to freedom of expression; to share their culture with their neighbors?

OffBeat Magazine tells the story better than I could, but I know, regardless of its political adversaries, the show will go on. And I, for one, look forward to hearing it. 

1 comment:

  1. Um, I don't think you understand how badly you're making me want to visit! First the beignets, and now this!?