The fourth section of our interview on the 23rd February 2017 with Leroy Jones, Freddie Lonzo, Joe Lastie and Louis Ford at The Preservation Hall, New Orleans.
(Missed part 3? Click here to read it.)
Tom: Can I ask something a little different? How do you feel the internet and globalization has affected like, the mass appeal of New Orleans music? And you know, I don’t think this kind of thing would have happened a few decades ago – do you feel like it’s kind of diluted traditions or do you like the fact that there’s now more of a, perhaps an appeal to it?
Leroy: Well, I like the fact that it has promoted it and it has exposed us more to the world. And you know what really helped, if you know about the series called Treme? That, after the levees failed, after Hurricane Katrina, I must say that that, if there was one series on TV, and this was of course HBO – one of the paid channels to watch it, now it’s on DVD but it brought focus on New Orleans in a way that we had not seen before, and also it exposed a lot of truths in a way, and showed how people, musicians, really, how we are here in New Orleans. How we speak in New Orleans, unlike some other attempts to capture that, like ‘The Big Easy’ and those things that tried to depict New Orleans – but it put us on the map, you know, and everybody got a chance, all the musicians, at least… I think everybody got to make an appearance in it, and if you had your original material, your songs played on it – you got licencing for that song, which is a fat pay check for that month, and then you get a little kick back in residual over time, according to how it’s distributed to other places, and overseas. But it gave everybody an opportunity – just about everybody in the city, the musicians at some point appeared in the series, and they made sure of it. And venues got exposure – this venue, the Palm Court jazz café…other venues around the city – there’s hundreds of venues that have music. Lots of different places around the city, each giving that to New Orleans. Live music. So it gave a nice opportunity in conjunction with the social media – facebook, twitter and…you know, all of those different things. And now it couldn’t be better! You can promote yourself without any absorbent fees, you know, and people are going there and looking for you. I think it’s great. Like, personally, I think it’s great.
Joe: I think it’s great too, because I hate it when people come up to me and say you know, well, traditional music is dying. So through social media and stuff, people know like, hey, not in New Orleans! And like, y’all youngsters, interested in this traditional music – I mean, come on, where’s it going?
Louise: Yeah, as long as people are constantly accessing it and loving it then it’s never going to die. I think it’s really sad when people say that. It’s one of those depressing things, isn’t it – like, my own mum, she is a classical musician and an actress, and she said to me ‘Why are you playing jazz?’ you know, ‘Jazz is dying’…MUM. No.
Hannah: You can say the same about classical music though, too. I mean, it’s very hard to get people along to classical concerts and pay for it, you know. Especially, like, we see that a lot in the Royal Festival Hall – there are just so many empty seats, and not many people I know my age at all, except on my course, listen to classical music. I know a lot of musicians doing the classical course who don’t even like listening to classical music. That’s the extent of some of it.
Martin: Same with Scottish trad as well, like, Scottish trad is going downhill now because of people [not supporting it]
Leroy: I mean, recently I was up in Royal Festival, and Lockerbie, you know, in Scotland, and places where they’re strong on traditional jazz there. You know, and up in Edinburgh there’s a nice jazz fest, and it’s jazz, you know, it’s not like Parliament and Funkadelic, which I love, like George Clinton and the P-funk and all that stuff, you know, I like good music, period. So I’m not biased against any…I love great classical music, I mean, we have a great Symphony out here in Louisiana Philharmonic, and then there’s societies that support the symphony, so those people are on salary. And fortunately – it’s like with the Opera, you know, I’ve been going to the opera lately with George, we’ve been going to sit in the operas, we get the tickets – they’re more reasonable than trying to go and see The Lion King at the Saenger, where the cheapest tickets are eighty bucks per person! And twenty-three dollars to sit up at the back, got your binoculars for the opera, and the symphony’s playing and it’s, you know, famous operas and great…and the music is great, the acoustic, and you know, if you wanna look closely, you put your binoculars on like them movie folks over there, and you can see…and it’s wonderful. It’s a wonderful musical experience, and it happens here. I mean, it’s full! There are people here, probably societies too, that support the music that’s considered not popular. And fortunately, thank God for those people, because then the symphonic musicians and so forth – they wouldn’t have a job. And, of course, they can teach, and then you could, I mean…*sighs*…I think every player wants to play, and it’s great to…and we’ve all, I mean I know I have, and he (Louis) does more than anyone, teach. There’s a lot of teaching. And I’ve given private lessons to trumpet students and teach people. But my forte, what I enjoy most, is performing and composing and making music – you know, getting together with cats to make some music together. So it’s, you know, I think that it is a pity that there is a lack of appreciation overall because there’s a certain norm of pop music that’s supposed to be popular. It may not be so good as far as having artistic merit, but it’s popular.
Louise: And I suppose I think that that’s one of the ways that the internet has affected music and jazz – People have access to so much music that it’s easier for most people (who aren’t musicians and don’t understand music) to listen to what’s on the radio and what their friends listen to and never even hear jazz because there’s so much music out there now.
Laura: It’s about exposure and what you’re lucky enough to cross paths with.
Freddie: Yeah, definitely.
Laura: Popular culture, driven by capitalism is ramming out loads of generic, ‘lesser’…well, I wouldn’t say lesser but of musical merit, for me personally, lesser quality music. It’s about the exposure you’re fortunate enough to meet.
Louise: I think everyone sees that one gig, don’t they, that inspires them, or meets that one musician, or hears that one song and then that’s is – and it’s about having access to that.