New Orleans poet Chuck Perkins and Jazz on the Tube’s Ken McCarthy
After the 2005 levee collapses (don’t call it “Katrina”), Jazz on the Tube’s Ken McCarthy started visiting New Orleans.
After a few week-long visits here and there, he started spending nearly half of every year there, arriving in December and leaving after Jazzfest.
One of his projects was advising levees.org, a relationship that continues to this day.
He also created an online fundraising system for the New Orleans Musician Clinic that earned an average of $1 for every web site visitor and and an average of $10 for each subscriber at the point of opt-in before they were formally asked for a donation.
In the years right after the levee failures, understanding of the severity of the challenges the city faced and its need for ongoing support was limited both in the US and overseas.
To help with this situation, Ken arranged for New Orleans musicians to perform in New York and in the UK, a venture he called FoodMusicJustice.
One of the projects was a tour of England for New Orleans poet and impresario Chuck Perkins.
Chuck’s tour reached its high point with him being invited to perform at the Manchester Poetry Festival, Europe’s biggest festival devoted to poetry, and later opening for Amiri Baraka at London’s South Bank Centre, the largest single-run theater complex in the world.
Here’s Chuck’s take on “Little Liza Jane”, a standard he turned into an anthem celebrating the heroic role New Orleans jazz musician’s played in helping bring the shattered city back to life after the second biggest engineering failure in human history.
Chuck’s tribute to the New Orleans musicians – “the artistic vanguard who came back when times where hard” – starts at 5:00
Ken goes back to New Orleans every year now, but now it’s only for a week or so at time.
At some point – maybe next year – he may organize a trip for interested Jazz on the Tube fans to meet the musicians, discover the clubs, and go deep into one of America’s greatest cultural treasures: the music scene in the great city of New Orleans.
– Lester Perkins
P.S. Chuck now has a radio show on WBOK.FM in New Orleans four days per week which can be streamed free anywhere in the world.