W hen the levees broke in New Orleans, flooding the cradle of American music, Fats Domino ignored calls for evacuation. Days later, he was declared missing, along with thousands of other New Orleanians. The "Ain't That a Shame" singer was eventually rescued by boat from the house he refused to leave, but other NOLA musicians suffered fates far worse.
With the guardians of its musical traditions scattered across the country (Cajun scenes are likely sprouting in places like Topeka), New Orleans struggles in the wake of Katrina to revive its legendary scene. Fund raisers have been held, benefit CDs produced and non-profits formed around the country.
Perhaps the best way to help return musicians to their home is by donating to The Backbeat Fund (backbeatfund.org).
Named for the rhythm that defines the NOLA sound and that's influenced all genres of American music, from rock & roll to jazz and funk, the Backbeat Fund aims to assure that "the musical heritage of New Orleans is able to return to live in the city when the time comes to rebuild." That time is now.
Featuring live performances by Colorado artists like Barnez, Three Twins (featuring members of the Subdudes) and Nina Storey, "Concert for the Gulf Coast" is available for $19.98 at krfcfm.org. All proceeds aid the rebirth of New Orleans radio stations.
Recording Artists for Hope also was formed to offer musical relief. The organization, featuring mainly independent musicians local to Houston, Texas, produced "The Katrina CD," which is perhaps the most popular relief disc, available at katrinacd.com.
Jamgrass and jam band fans will enjoy "Musicians Assisting Disaster Efforts: A Conscious Alliance of Voices, Vol. 1." Conscious Alliance has assembled a caring group of pickers for this album.
The disc features Kansas-based Split Lip Rayfield, Colorado's Hit and Run Bluegrass, Yonder Mountain String Band and Umphrey's McGee, as well as a tribute song to New Orleans by The Gourds.
If it's the real deal you crave, check out "Our New Orleans: A Benefit Album for the Gulf Coast," an album composed entirely by New Orleans artists like Buckwheat Zydeco and Dr. John.
There's also "Higher Ground Hurricane Benefit Relief Concert" and "Hurricane Relief: Come Together Now," which features musical heavyweights like Norah Jones, Wyclef Jean and Kanye West.
This article originally appeared in the Colorado Springs Indepedent.