As New Orleanians, no one has to tell us to let the music move us, it just does
As far back as I can remember, music has always brought forth some sort of movement. I’m not referring to a particular brand of music taking over the airwaves or a political movement. I’m talking about people literally moving to music, reacting to music, breathing music. There is nothing more fascinating than watching another human being dance with abandon, and let me tell you, no one does it better than a New Orleanian.
Now more than ever, there is an abundance of great music in our city, and the number of people moving to that music is astounding. As a singer and musician, I can tell you, without people reacting to our music with that passion and soul, there would be no music. Nothing is more rewarding than a group of people singing your songs back to you at the top of their lungs and moving their bodies like there is no tomorrow.
Naturally, you can find this rhythm in the muddy, rain-soaked fields of the Jazz Fest, and certainly every night in the clubs on Frenchmen Street. However, this particular passion is not reserved for live-music lovers only. It’s everywhere. Take a look around and you’ll notice these hidden tunes driving fellow New Orleanians every single day. There’s a certain tempo here in New Orleans … it’s all in the stride. Whether it’s a young girl jumping rope in the Eighth Ward or an elderly couple walking through Audubon Park, they are all moving to a beat found only in our great city.
I grew up in New Orleans, and the hypnotic pulse that permeates the heavy, humid air down here has been flowing through my soul since I was a child. Whether I was skateboarding, running or swimming, there was always an amazing soundtrack behind it. Even when I left the city to live in New York and Los Angeles, I would fly back to visit, and the moment the plane landed, that rhythm would seep right back in.
In Manhattan for instance, there is much more of a frenetic pace, and in L.A., well, sometimes there is no pace at all. However, in New Orleans, we move to a steady groove—confident, yet always in the pocket— not unlike the majestic river that winds through our beloved city.
Of course, there’s a perfect marriage of neighborhoods and music in New Orleans, and the climate creates a tempo that seems to dictate how we celebrate our traditions. My Cuban parents certainly passed on a love of music to me, and I quickly noticed how differently we move about in New Orleans, not only while we listen to music, but also how we carry it with us wherever we go.
My father told me about growing up and playing music with Dr. John and recording with Professor Longhair as a teenager. Having spent his formative years in the Marigny and St. Roch areas, he developed a style that he has carried with him to this very day. I grew up Uptown, performed throughout Europe and the U.S. and am looking forward to doing the same with my own experiences.
So as we enter another incredible summer, let us continue to celebrate the way we do here in New Orleans. As long as we keep moving, stagnant floodwaters don’t stand a chance.