Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Treme Song

Song: Treme Song
Artist: John Boutte
Album: Jumbalaya

My friend Cicely's birthday is three days apart from mine, and recently she decided to have a New Orleans themed party as she lived there for several years and the culture, people, and vibe of the area are still very much with her.  Given my music interest I told her I would get her some music for the party as long as she gave me a list of whom she really liked.  So, I got to have a crash-coarse in the deep history that is the music of the much neglected Southern city.

From Jelly Roll Morton to The Meters, Professor Longhair to Dr. John, Allen Toussaint to Fats Domino, I now have a great library of music from the past and future that has totally overwhelmed me, but also clued me into the great tradition of the area, and hearing how the "style" has only changed slightly.  (aside from production value, you can't really tell if a song is from 1944 or 1994.)

It just so happens that HBO has been showing a new series, "Treme" about New Orleans, the culture, and more specifically, how Hurricane Katrina, and the slow-to-none response from the government and the rest of the country, has affected the area.  And now with the BP oil spill, you have an area that just can't catch a break.  I haven't watched that much of "Treme," (which Cicely thinks is amazingly rich in true atmosphere and you-are-there feel) but one thing I took away is the relationship that the town has with the tourist they both need, and sort of despise.  So many come down looking for the "real" New Orleans experience that they've been sold with images of Mardi Gras and creole food, only to find a town practically discarded after a natural/man-made disaster.

But of course it's the music that has always kept the town afloat, and even casual listening clues you in that there is a deep connection with the music in that area, a venerable life force that, despite the storm, has kept the town and it's people afloat.  The show (created and produced by those that did "The Wire") is remarkably rich in its use of the music as well as the actual musicians that don't touch the Billboard charts, but are living breathing legends that you could, given a visit to the town, find playing, singing, and just living it in a local bar.  The show picked John Boutte's 2003 track "Treme Song" as the theme, most likely given the name but it also really encompasses the vibe (from the very little I know) of the scene.  It's a great feel good song, check it out.


Treme Song - Open to HBO Show

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