30 January 2007

Oh, the Music!

I just spent a couple of hours at my home desk, sorting through bank statements and looking for some tax information. A highlight of this time was listening to an album called "Our New Orleans" -- twice! And that inspired me to write my first Second Line post.

"Our New Orleans 2005" was recorded not long after Katrina and its aftermath wreaked havoc on the city. It's a benefit CD, with net proceeds going to Habitat for Humanity to aid those affected by the hurricane. So with that context, the album has a particular poignancy. "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?" sung by someone who might have lost his home -- "What a Wonderful World" performed despite the devastation -- Randy Newman singing "Louisiana 1927," about a devastating hurricane from the last century.

Blues, Zydeco, Cajun, Dixieland, and more -- and each cut is great! When you go to New Orleans, you'll be treated to some great music, whether you go out to a club, walk around Jackson Square, or simply attend official AALL events (where I'm sure they'll have wonderful bands).

The liner notes are by Nick Spitzer, a professor of folklore at the University of New Orleans and the host of Public Radio International's American Routes. One anecdote I like:

Pianist, songmaker, and producer Allen Toussaint spoke with remarkable calm after the storm: "My Steinway, my records, my arrangements, my studio -- it's all gone. I had eight feet of water in my house near Bayou St. John." He escaped from his drowning city with little more than the clothes he had on, and a few family keepsakes. Dressed in a new suit with matching silk tie and pocket-handkerchief, Toussaint added, "But the spirit didn't drown. I still have my music. Give me a hammer. I'm ready to do my part."

With a funky new rendition of his classic call to action -- "Yes We Can Can," Toussaint strikes a blow for the collaborative labor, good will and essential soul it will take to rebuild New Orleans -- not so much materially as spiritually.
Check out Nick Spitzer's multimedia presentation, Rebuilding the "Land of Dreams": Expressive Culture and New Orleans' Authentic Future, on Southern Spaces (Aug. 29, 2006). It includes some of the same musicians and music as the CD.

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20 January 2007

Instructions for Posting Photos

There are two ways you can post photos to appear on the blog.

The first way is easiest if you don't have a lot of photos to post. You can post your photos directly to the blog by creating a new post and clicking on the add image icon then follow the simple wizard. Just like I did with my photo of the pelican at the LSU lakes...

If you have a lot of photos then you can set up a Flickr account, join the AALL Second Line Group, post the photos there, and they will automatically link to this blog. Flickr is free and if you have a Yahoo account, you already have access to Flickr. To join the AALL Second Line Group, email me at vicenc.feliu@law.lsu.edu and I will send you and invitation. After you upload your photos to Flickr, add your photos to the Group and then they will automatically appear in the Flickr badge on the right of the page.

I hope to see all your annual meeting pictures posted here!

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19 January 2007

Thanks, and getting good to go!

Just a post to shout out 'mil gracias' to Vicenc for getting this blog started. That's a nice set of photos you've posted up here, V, and I'm sure that we'll have plenty more to add by the time this summer's meeting has come and gone. I, for one, am looking forward a nuestro reunion!


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12 January 2007

What's a Second Line?

Traditional New Orleans Brass Band parades and Jazz funerals consist of two elements, a Main Line and a Second Line.

The Main Line is the "main section or the members of the actual club, that has the permit to parade.” The parades consist of a larger element of fans and the curious following that section of members and musicians...

Those fans, admirers, and the curious are the "Second Line" or part two of the planned street parade. These parades have come to be called "Second Lines", the sponsoring element is the "Main Line" and it is usually a "Social Aid & Pleasure Club" of the neighborhood in which they are parading. These parades very seldom take up routes on heavily traffic laden thoroughfares in the city. Most are held in the back areas, visiting the stops that help the clubs to continue the tradition.

The Social Aide & Pleasure Club tradition is a mixture of African traditions that came together to form one of the most unique forms of celebration in the United States. The tradition's history dates back to the late 19th century in the African American community in New Orleans. The New Orleans Freedmen’s Aid Association, was founded after the Civil War in 1865. This organization’s goal was to provide loans, assistance and legal counsel, and a means of education to the newly freed slaves. The New Orleans Freedmen's Aid Association was the first form of "insurance", to ever exist in the African American communities. They paid funeral costs, when possible, and arranged for Jazz funerals. This function is where the clubs and groups that followed derive their core name, "social aid".

After the Civil War, it was much easier to get musical instruments, so newly freed African Americans, began to form marching bands that consisted of only brass instruments with the lone exception of a bass and tom-tom drums. In the late 1890's and the early 1900's these "Brass bands" began to be asked to perform at Jazz funerals. Jazz funerals were at the heart of an early African slave religious practice, of celebrating of the life of a deceased person.

When the church's funeral service was over, and the procession began the movement from the church to the cemetery, the band would play slow, sad, funeral hymns, known as a "dirge". Led by a "Grand Marshal", the band and mourners would move to the burial site, with the band playing a dirge to signal the struggles, the hardships, the ups and downs of life.

On the way back, the music became more joyful. The band played high-spirited tunes such as "Didn't He Ramble," and "Li'l Liza Jane", among other tunes. This was to signal the dismissal and interment of the physical body and the joyous event of the release of the soul to heaven. Relatives, friends, and acquaintances would become the Second Line and dance with wild abandon. The Second Line, usually sporting umbrellas and handkerchiefs, has become a traditional part of Jazz funerals.

From The Mardi Gras Digest; http://www.mardigrasdigest.com/Sec_2ndline/2ndline_history.htm

Check out this site from The Gumbo Pages for photographs of the Jazz Funeral for Anthony "Tuba Fats" Lacen with pictures of the Tremè Brass Band and a traditional Second Line.

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04 January 2007

AALL Second Line Blog Welcome

Welcome to the AALL Second Line Blog! The blog is a companion piece to The AALL Second Line, the official conference daily newspaper of the 100th AALL Annual Meeting and Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, July 14-17, 2007. The AALL Second Line will feature news, announcements and informational pieces about the upcoming meeting, as well as stories, tips and other items of interest for conference attendees. We also hope to recruit "Second Line Bloggers" to report on their experiences during the meeting.

Since we will be using Blogger to host the AALL Second Line Blog, you will need an invitation from us to post directly, and a Blogger username and password (you can always post comments to previous postings without blogger registration).If you would like to blog now (or throughout the meeting), or simply post an occasional article or picture, you must:

1. Request a blogger invitation by e-mail from:Vicenç Feliú vicenc.feliu@law.lsu.edu

2. Agree to the blogger guidelines, which will be sent to you in a separate e-mail.

The AALL Second Line Blog is now open for postings by registered users!

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