Thursday, September 01, 2005

Missing In New Orleans... 

update: as Ray alluded to in the comments, "Fats" Domino was, in fact, rescued from his flooded home in New Orleans' 9th Ward and Irma Thomas had the good sense to evacuate to Baton Rouge before Katrina hit. Allen Toussaint, at last report, was among the massive crowd stuck at the Superdome, waiting to be evacuated to Houston. As yet, there is no word on the whereabouts of Antoinette K-Doe.

Since New Orleans, the city which has arguably the richest and most storied Rhythm and Blues history of all, has been ravaged by Hurricane Katrina, many residents who decided, in the grand New Orleans tradition, to try and "ride the storm out" are still missing. This is possibly due to the fact that they are simply unable to get in contact with loved ones due to communications being limited or nonexistant. The "worst-case scenario," however, still looms large regarding these missing residents...They simply may not have survived the wrath of Katrina. Among the residents of the Crescent City who remain missing are performers whom I hold in very high regard, including Irma Thomas, Allen Toussaint and the legendary Antoine "Fats" Domino. Additionally, Antoinette K-Doe, widow of the late Ernie K-Doe is still listed as "missing."

This may seem selfish, for me to focus on such a select few potential victims of such a widespread tragedy, but the individuals I mentioned, and the music which they have created, mean a great deal to me personally. Yes, in the end, they're mere mortals, subject to time and tide like the rest of us but, somewhere in my mind, I still think of them as more than that. To me, they're icons from a bygone era, reminders of a time when what they did was fresh, bold and unprecedented. The performers I mentioned were true pioneers who helped to shape rock and roll in it's earliest of days, giving the performers that came after them, and who would go on to great fame and reknown, a base of inspiration to draw from. Without New Orleans, without Cosimo Matassa, without Allen Toussaint, without Irma Thomas, without Ernie K-Doe, without Antoine "Fats" Domino there would have been no LIttle Richard, no Chubby Checker and certainly, whether you choose to believe this or not, no Beatles...The major players of this bygone era are steadily dying off and, for every legend of rock and roll and rhythm and blues which we lose, as a society, we are that much poorer.

Thousands of times I've promised my wife that "someday we'll get to New Orleans and see Fats Domino perform," seeing that she loves his music almost as much as I do. Every time I made that statement, I fully expected to be able to follow through on it, even though I knew that I was "running out of time," so to speak. When I heard that Hurricane Katrina was headed for New Orleans, my first thoughts were of the many performers and historic buildings which mean so much to the history of rock and roll. As selfish as it seems, I couldn't help but hope that they, and the city as a whole, would be spared. As is obvious now, though, that was not to be.

A couple of days ago, while we were watching coverage of the hurricane, my wife turned to me and said "I hope that Fats is ok." Despite all of the devastation throughout the entire Gulf Coast, I have to admit, I was thinking the exact same thing. Now, I don't personally know any of the performers whom I've mentioned in this post and, conversely, they do not know me. This, however, does not change the fact that they, and their music, mean a great deal to me and always will. I can only hope that they're alive and as safe as can be expected. If not, I pray that they passed with a minimum of suffering.

Not that you haven't heard this by now but, if you're looking for a way to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina, I'd recommend starting with the Red Cross.


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