Ten years ago tomorrow, Hurricane Katrina slammed ashore east of New Orleans. When the levees failed, floodwaters drowned nearly two thousand residents of America’s most musical, magical city.
“Six feet of water in the streets of Evangeline,” as Randy Newman sang in his “Louisiana 1927” — a highlight of my first Jazz Fest in 2008 and a mainstay of Marcia Ball’s live sets, but I digress.
The first music I ever loved was what we call Dixieland up here but is revered (and still played) as traditional jazz in New Orleans. Since brother Jim Hoke and I discovered this happy-complex jaunty jazz on our parents’ 78s before we hit our teens, the music I’ve loved most has come from there.
From pioneering stars Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, Fats Domino, Professor Longhair, Ernie K-Doe, James Booker, Allen Toussaint and the Meters to more contemporary giants Allen Toussaint (well, yeah), the Nevilles, Kermit Ruffins, Henry Butler, the subdudes, Jon Cleary and Trombone Shorty, that stuff always gets to me in the biggest, best way. Jazz Fest is my pilgrimage to the joy that New Orleans music always brings. It works both ways, too — when Louisiana musicians tour through here.
My wife/hero Ellie also pilgrimages to New Orleans and adjoining parishes, in 16 work-volunteer trips she has organized and led there — from just weeks after Katrina to now. She tells me the grateful people whom she helps always mix their thanks with the poignant plea not to forget them.
Let’s remember them — but not just their great musicians, and not just at the anniversary of terrible events 10 years ago.
A bright star of Louisiana music visits this week. The great zydeco singer-accordionist Terrance Simien plays on Friday at the Newberry Music Hall (388 Broadway, Saratoga Springs). Multi-Grammy winner Simien has the best voice, smile and bead-tossing technique in zydeco history. 8 p.m. $18 advance, $20 door. 275-6897 http://newberrymusichall.com/event-terrance-simien.php
Jam bands and fans return to Indian Lookout Country Club (8865 Mariaville Road, Pattersonville) this weekend. Headliners Max Creek, celebrating 44 years of Grateful Dead-inspired improvising, play Saturday and Sunday. Starting Friday at 3 p.m. with Casey & John Bloom, six bands play on the Hill Stage. On Saturday and Sunday, bands alternate on the Hill Stage and the Main Stage, so fans can see everything.
On Saturday, main stage bands include two sets by Max Creek, plus (Little Feat guitarists) Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett and (Doors tribute) Riders on the Storm, starting at noon; while the Hill Stage features five bands starting at 10 a.m. and the last set by the Kind Buds starting at 1 a.m. Max Creek is back on the Main Stage at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, after the Ryan Montbleau Band plays at 12:30 p.m.
On the Hill Stage on Sunday, Jamemurell Stanley starts the show at 10 a.m., followed by Jen Durkin & the Business, then Eastbound Jesus. Former Zappa percussionist Ed Mann may pop up in anybody’s set — maybe everybody’s — as artist at large. Full weekend (with camping) $120. Sunday only $35. RVs $40. Paypal orders close today. 864-7777. www.campcreek2015.com.
Music by McIntosh rings down the curtain on Jazz on Jay today at noon. Buffalo-born guitarist John McIntosh has played gospel and jazz from Germany to every area festival. This free 13-show weekly event has drawn hundreds to Schenectady’s Jay Street Mall all summer. Free. Noon. Rain site: Robb Alley at Proctors. www.facebook.com/JazzOnJay.
On Saturday, the all-star Twangbusters close the season at Riverlink Park (25 Church St., Amsterdam). Miss Paula (Bradley) leads this versatile crew — Kevin Maul, steel and slide guitar; Peter Bearup, guitar; Bob Resnick, drums; and Pete Toigo, bass — in celebrating many colors of American roots music. Free. 7 p.m. www.riverlinkconcerts.com.
Reach Gazette columnist Michael Hochanadel at [email protected]