Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Solidarity: Way Down Yonder

In the present depressing political situation, I found the following (from the UK Musicians' Union), encouraging and rather moving:

"£43, 000 raised for musicians in New Orleans.

"Within ten days of hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastating New Orleans, a band was playing in Southampton High Street in order to raise funds for the musicians who had lost their homes, instruments, and livelihoods. £514.00 was raised that day and from this start, the New Orleans Musicians' Appeal Fund (NOMAF) was formed. The Charities Commission statement was to collect money for musicians without any deduction for administration or expenses (excepting minimum bank charges) and they would pass it in lump sumsto organisations in the city who knew the musicians, their needs and had also pledged hat they would take no money for running costs from the money that we had sent to them.

"Immediately after the hurricane, bank accounts were inaccessible. So the first need to be addressed was money for temporary housing and everyday items; anything from cleaning materials to apair of socks. To this end NOMAF almost immediately sent £1,500 to the Tipitana's Foundation, to help in the cost of temporary re-housing and another £1,500 ...(to be) handed out in parcels of 500 dollars to needy musicians. At the same time £3,000 was sent to the Musicians' Clinic - an organisation that treats musicians free of charge and boasts that they can turn a one-dollar donation into twelve dollars of care. Their New Orleans base had been flooded, all of then patient records were underwater and they had lost access to any money. The clinic relocated temporarily in Lafayette and set about the task of tracing their patients, getting prescriptions to them and urgent medical equipment such as oxygen tanks. All this was done on newly donated money.

"The second stage was to deal with more long-term needs. Another£4,000 was sent to the Musicians' Clinic, who had returned to their premises in New Orleans. They were beginning the massive task of drying out the building, patient records and replacing water-damaged medical equipment. Yet another £4,000 was sent to NOMRF, who this time did a deal with Conn-Selmer and re-equipped the New Wave Brass Band with instruments that had been lost in the flood. This was done at below cost price and the band was able to march once again at Mardi Gras. £3, 000 was sent to The Preservation Hall charity. The new Orleans Musicians' Hurricane Relief Fund (NOMHRF) provided furniture for Bob French, a jazz drummer, after he had found a new apartment. Bob's apartment in Treme was heavily damaged in the storm and being an older gentleman with a drum kit, he needed a new place of his own. Bob is a bandleader, and an outspoken advocate for New Orleans music. Furnishing his apartment will provide a base of operations for him to continue playing and educating the world about music from New Orleans.

"At the special request of two of our donors, another £5,000 was sent to NOMRF. This helped Eddie Bo, a piano player, to repair his roof, as well as aiding Jean Brazeale, a singer/pianist and a young band 'The Morning 40 Federation'.

"Another request by the donors was for money totalling £5,200 to be sent to the (US) Musicians' Union: they have an Altruist fund for hurricane relief, which was also being administered without deduction of expenses.

"The fund has to date collected over £43,400.00 and the administrators feel that it will soon be time to close the fund which was only ever meant to give immediate relief. Not only the jazz lovers in this country contributed money: donations have also been recieved fron France, germany and from Spain. Chris Walker will be visiting New Orleans in april and the rest of the funds will be distributed at that time".

"Chris Walker
"Vice Chairman of the M.U. Jazz Section Committee)


Anonymous Bruce Robinson said...

That august body the Manchester Jazz Society, of which I am a life member (as is anyone who turns up to one of its recitals!), made a contribution to this fund along with various individual members in its ranks.

It's good to know that the money is actually getting spent on real aid to musicians.

Bruce R

2:58 AM  

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