Post and photos by Punch Pulse Correspondent Niki Clark, www.see2photography.com
Now although my cousin Jacob argues vehemently that growing up on the Northshore of Lake Ponchatrain does not a New Orleanian make, I consider myself one. So it was with much anticipation that I approached last Mondayâ€™s Future of Music Coalition (FMC) All-Star Benefit for New Orleans at the Black Cat.
Iâ€™ve been to these gigs before. Thereâ€™s a bit of second-lining, maybe some Mardi Gras beads, perhaps a little â€œIko Ikoâ€ and a lot of â€œYaâ€™ll having fun yets?â€ So to prepare myself in proper fashion, I headed pre-show to Desperadoâ€™s, the sister bar of NOLAâ€™s own Port of Call for a couple of beers and a Cajun burger. But when I walked into the crowded upstairs at Black Cat, my preconceived notions of a good Louisiana show were all but shattered. Donâ€™t get me wrong, it was a good Louisiana show, great I would even argue. It just was completely unexpected. Which, I guess, is one of New Orleansâ€™ greatest qualities. You never know quite what youâ€™re going to get, but itâ€™s a helluva good time no matter what.
The benefit, hosted by FMC and Air Traffic Control (ATC), showcased several of the artists who contributed to the critically-acclaimed compilation, Dear New Orleans. Produced by ATC for the fifth anniversary of Katrina and the floods, the show paid tribute to a city as unique as, well, the stream of musicians that flowed on and off the Black Cat Stage.
A few examples. Man walks onto stage. He looks rather, um, nondescript. Someoneâ€™s dad, slightly balding. The music starts and all of sudden heâ€™s jumping around stage in crazy, uncontrolled motions while belting out tunes that echo Mighty Mighty Bosstones. That was Wonderlick. He ends the high energy performance with a â€œ#$%^ You Katrina!â€ Associations with my father immediately leave my head.
An Abercrombie model steps up to the microphone. The dj starts building the beat and then, seemingly out of nowhere, said-pretty boy starts rapping in fist-pumping fashion until the entire house is chanting â€œRise, Rise, Rise.â€ And with incredibly engaging and thoughtful lyrics, to boot Johnny 5 of the Flobots.
A petite brunette with glasses shimmies up to the stage. She probably reads philosophy books while riding the metro. She pulls out a lime green guitar and tears it up and leaves the crowd in a sweaty dancey haze. I donâ€™t recall her name as I was too busy complaining to my sister that Mom never encouraged us in any musical endeavors. She reminds me that neither one of us have any natural abilities and I ignore her.
So I was wrong. (I rarely admit this so enjoy while you can.) There was no Mardi Gras references, and although Bonerama upped the ante on every performance with their trombones, there was no Louis Armstrong-type solos. But it was absolutely mind-blowingly amazing. Just like (shut up, Jacob!) the town that I call my own.
Dear New Orleans can be downloaded here at www.dearno.la. Youâ€™ll soon be calling NOLA home too.
Pamela Lynne Sorensen is the founder of Pamela’s Punch, a platform for profiling people who "make it happen" in the Capital region, reviews & topical blog posts. She launched Punch Enterprises, a connector consulting business in 2015 and Pacific Punch based in LA, in 2012. Pamela comes from an extensive background in sales and business development from a variety of industries, has been involved with charities and fundraising for a number of years and holds several Board and leadership positions. She currently resides in Arlington, VA. Follow her on Twitter at @pamelaspunch.