But the Iguanas did come back. I'm a New Orleans native, a Ben Franklin graduate, Coman says. I don't know where else I'd go. I have a lot of family here. Sure it's hard, but it was hard before. People after the storm were talking about 'Oh, we gotta get the musicians back. It's so important.' Well, the musicians are the ones who don't have jobs to begin with. They are the ones who have the most freedom to move back. They didn't have anything before and they've got nothing now. The people whose jobs moved to another city, they had to go. They couldn't move back.
The music scene in New Orleans as far as being a musician and making a living here, the bottom has totally fallen out. Not that you can't have a career, but you have to go on the road to do it. There was a time when you could make a decent salary playing gigs on Frenchmen Street, and while there are still instances where musicians can make a living on Frenchmen Street, it seems like one club after another are booked with people who basically play for tips and line up to do so. When you have an unlimited supply of people who are willing to play for tips, it makes it pretty hard to market something else.
We all have families here, Hodges says. My son has many cousins and uncles and aunts here, and I really wouldn't want him to be out of that community. Austin is a beautiful place, but New Orleans - there's just no other place like it. I know it's hard to describe and a lot of people can't really see what the attraction is, but it's there. The musicians here, the laid back way of life, there's something there. It's undeniable. I mean, Louis Armstrong and Fats Domino and Allen Toussaint. There probably wouldn't be rock 'n' roll without that.
We're living in a city where there's such a strong identity associated with the music, Garrison adds. You'd probably be doing the same thing if you were evacuating from St. Louis, it just wouldn't be as evident that you were representing St. Louis music. Musicians from New Orleans, when they go anywhere in the world, they always take New Orleans with them. The identity of the music is just so strong. It was almost dire that we put this music out because people were taking about the need to even rebuild New Orleans.
Why did I come back after all of that? Cabral asks. I love New Orleans. There's no place like it. That's why I came here. I wasn't lucky enough to have been born here, but I was smart enough to get down here as soon as I realized it was where I needed to be. I listened to a lot of things growing up, everything from country to my dad's Mexican records, to jazz, blues, rock, and a lot of the really great stuff that I dug was from here. Rod and I were in Colorado years ago and we met the subdudes and they always told us to move to New Orleans. At the time, it seemed like a good idea and that's how we ended up here. New Orleans is a jewel in the crown of musical cities. To be a glint in that jewel is kind of, 'Okay, I'll take that.'
© OffBeat Magazine - 2008