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Music to Help New Orleans - Yes We Can

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We were all emotionally affected by Hurricane Katrina. And I'm sure we are all frustrated by the lack of progress in rebuilding New Orleans. But like me, you are probably wondering, "What can I do about it?" Well, right now, you can buy a CD or a download. Enjoy some rightous music while doing what's right.

Our New Orleans: A Benefit Album
This is one of my favorite CDs of all time, with every track especially recorded for the fundraising effort. Cryin' in the Streets by Buckwheat Zydeco is the most heartbreaking song I have heard come out of the crescent city. But Allen Toussaint's version of Yes We Can is so uplifting it will make you have hope for the future. Other heavy hitters are Dr. John, Irma Thomas, and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band.

Made in New Orleans: The Hurricane Sessions
This box set was compiled by Preservation Hall, New Orlean's keeper of the musical flame. Katrina flooded legendary Sea-Saint Studios with eight feet of water, but master tracks of early Preservation Hall Jazz Bands were salvaged. This was the inspiration to create a musical history of the Preservation Hall Jazz Bands from past to present. Some of the older tracks have been augmented with accompaniment by current PHJB members. Limited editions sets are signed, numbered and include a CD & DVD, original photographs, archival documents, and an unreleased 7” vinyl record of The Olympia Brass Band, but come at a generous $150. Regular box sets are a more affordable $70 and downloads are only $9.99. I just downloaded it and Blow Wind Blow is not only strangely prophetic, but beautiful and comforting. Heebie Jeebies will definitely put a smile on your face and Eh La Ba will have you on your feet.

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MusicCares Hurricane Relief
This CD is a compilation of previously recorded classics from Rounder Records by the likes of Professor Longhair and Jelly Roll Morton. Showcasing what New Orleans does best, from brass bands to funk, this collection contains one of my more obscure favorites, Carnival Time by Al Johnson. Also memorable are James Booker's Lawdy Miss Clawdy and Eddie Bo's kooky classic Check Mr. Popeye..

The New Orleans Social Club: Sing Me Back Home
In the wake of Katrina, a group of local musicians including Dr. John, Irma Thomas, Marcia Ball, Henry Butler and members of the Neville family came together to lift the spirits of the broken city and to call their lost people back home. Alternately mournful and outraged, this CD expresses the emotions of New Orleans immediately after the disaster. Ivan Neville's cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival's Fortunate Son and Chris Neville's My Country are particularly moving. It is unclear whether or not a portion of the sales is donated to hurricane relief, but the money is going to local musicians at the very least.

Hurricane Relief: Come Together Now
This compilation is strange gumbo of the old and the new, mixing classics like Dr. John and Clifton Chenier with modern tracks from such diverse artists as Bonnie Raitt and R. Kelly. Kanye West puts his music where his mouth is with We Can make it Better. The collection opens with Louis Armstrong's especially poignant Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans?

Do you know what it means
To miss New Orleans
And miss it each night and day
Well I know I'm not wrong
The feeling's getting stronger
The longer I stay away
Miss those moss-covered vines
The tall sugar-pines
Where mockingbirds used to sing
I'd love to see that lazy Mississippi
Running in the spring
Moonlight on the bayous
Creole tunes fill the air
I dream about magnolias in June
And I'm wishin I was there