Tribute to the Music of New Orleans Hurricane Katrina scattered New Orleans musicians — leaving many without home or income. A few players from the Crescent City, including Rock and Roll Hall of famer Allan Toussaint, perform live in NPR's Washington, D.C. studios.
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Tribute to the Music of New Orleans

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Tribute to the Music of New Orleans

Tribute to the Music of New Orleans

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This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington.

(Soundbite of applause)

CONAN: Jelly Roll Morton used to say that he invented jazz one afternoon when he didn't have anything better to do. It's a story that's always been hard to believe because he was in New Orleans at the time and there's always something to do there and great music to listen to, until these past three weeks. Hurricane Katrina silenced the clubs known for jazz and funk, blues and R&B and scattered the city's musicians across the country. Rooted in French, African-American and Latin influences the music of the Big Easy has always been one of the principal reasons the city drew visitors from around the world.

Today, we pay tribute to the distinctive style that infects all of the music of New Orleans. If you're a musician, give us a call and tell us about the debt all of us owe to New Orleans. If you visited, call and tell us who and what you listened to and how it moved you. Our number here in Washington is (800) 989-8255. That's (800) 989-TALK. And the e-mail address is

We're broadcasting today with a live audience in NPR's Studio 4A and also with us are New Orleans musicians David Mooney and Derek Douget. We'll be joined later in the program by longtime New Orleans R&B artist and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Allan Toussaint.

But first, Derek Douget and David Mooney, let me begin you guys with a question I guess everybody asks anybody from New Orleans these days. How'd you get out?

Mr. DEREK DOUGET (Jazz Saxophonist): I left before. I left a day before and evacuated to Gonzales, which is about 60 miles west-northwest of New Orleans.

CONAN: Any doubts in your mind about staying, Derek?




CONAN: David, what about you?

Mr. DAVID MOONEY (Jazz Guitarist): Well, we left before as well, my wife and I. And we went up to Mississippi to stay with some friends and watched it on the TV, like everybody else, when things got really bad; hardly brought anything with us. And from there, we made our way here.

CONAN: Well, we're glad that both of you got out and I hope everybody...

Mr. DOUGET: Thank you.

CONAN: both your families is OK.

Mr. MOONEY: Thanks.

CONAN: How about a tune?

Mr. MOONEY: Sure.

Mr. DOUGET: Sure.

Mr. MOONEY: Sure.

(Soundbite of Mooney and Douget playing jazz music; applause)

CONAN: Derek Douget on soprano saxophone, David Mooney on guitar, "West End Blues."

Derek, I meant to ask you, I think I'd heard that opening played before, usually on clarinet.

Mr. DOUGET: Trumpet, actually.

CONAN: Uh-huh.

Mr. DOUGET: Louis Armstrong, that's the intro that he played, the original intro.

CONAN: I wonder, when you come from a place just outside New Orleans and, David, you grew up in New Orleans...

Mr. MOONEY: Mm-hmm.

CONAN: it a--you know, when you grow up with that kind of legacy, you know, Louis Armstrong, King Oliver, all of the greats, you know...

Mr. DOUGET: Right.

CONAN: ...from the beginning, Buddy Bolden, you know, is it a burden? You say, how do you match up with those guys? Or is it, you know, like you're joining the family business?

Mr. DOUGET: It's a little bit of both for me, I guess. It's definitely like joining a family business, but it's serious business. You know, you have to, I guess, try to live up to the legacy if you can, at least.

CONAN: Mm-hmm. Yeah, you've got to be able to play in the band.

Mr. DOUGET: Right.

CONAN: Yeah. David?

Mr. MOONEY: Yeah. For me I always thought of it as a great privilege being able to grow up around so much music. And even when I was in high school going to The New Orleans Centre for Creative Arts.

CONAN: You're involved now in teaching the next generation of musicians in New Orleans, aren't you?

Mr. MOONEY: Yes.

CONAN: Yeah. You, too?

Mr. DOUGET: Oh, I did for my master's and I'd like to do some more of that. It was definitely a great experience.

CONAN: Mm-hmm. The next generation, are they ignorant whipper-snappers, or are they scary good?

Mr. DOUGET: Both.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MOONEY: Yeah. I agree, both.

CONAN: And th...

Mr. DOUGET: And the ones that are scary good are really, really good.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: Let's get some listeners involved in the conversation, a tribute to New Orleans music here today on TALK OF THE NATION. And we'll talk with Frank and Frank is calling us from Boise, Idaho.

FRANK (Caller): Yes, sir. I--you had just asked about some memories that people had of New Orleans music. And I was road tripping from Colorado to Alabama with my wife in an old Mustang we had and it only had AM radio.

CONAN: Mm-hmm.

FRANK: And we were flipping through the dial and came upon--I don't know if it's the zydeco or--'cause I've never heard it since I went through there. But it was entrenched with Cajun rhythms. We had it on the AM for about three hours until we passed through some area on some back roads on the way to New Orleans. That's one of the best memories that I have with my wife because it was so cool.

CONAN: Derek Douget (pronounced DOO-gay), Douget (pronounced DOE-gay), excuse me. I'll get that right.

Mr. DOUGET: That's all right.

CONAN: That's all right. It's--there's all kinds of musical influences in that part of Louisiana.

Mr. DOUGET: Of course.

CONAN: Yeah. He was talking about driving through and hearing a zydeco radio station.

Mr. DOUGET: Yeah. It could have been zydeco, it could have been Cajun. There's really only small differences between the two musics.

CONAN: And you have to be a musician pretty much to understand it.

Mr. DOUGET: Or a native.

CONAN: Well, isn't that the same thing?

Mr. DOUGET: I guess, yeah.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: Frank, did you ever decide to go back and listen in person at a club?

FRANK: Well, we did. And we couldn't find that same kind of music anywhere, unfortunately. Lots of blues and jazz, which we enjoyd , too, but it was just unique time there in the car as we were going through the state and it was just really a unique experience.

CONAN: Well...

FRANK: Great music.

CONAN: ...I'd suggest maybe Lafayette next time if you're looking for...

FRANK: I'll do that.

Mr. DOUGET: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

CONAN: All right. Appreciate the phone call.

There's a--questions here in the audience here in Studio 4A. Go ahead, sir.

KHALEL(ph) (Audience Member): Hi. My name is Khalel and I'm originally from Worcester, Massachusetts. I am a huge fan of New Orleans. I go down every year for the jazz festival--at least I have for the last five years. And I know one of the places I frequent is Tipitina's, and I know they have an organization that helps to get instruments to children who wouldn't ordinarily have them. I was wondering is there something that you guys do as part of teaching and being involved with music there that gets kids more involved with the music and keeps the tradition going?

Mr. MOONEY: Well, yeah. I teach at The New Orleans Centre for Creative Arts. And Derek and I both taught in the public schools through a program on the University of New Orleans called the Louis Armstrong Quartet. And, yeah, there's a--seems to be a lot of interest among young kids in New Orleans about learning about the music and a lot of interest on the part of older musicians in keeping the tradition going. Yeah, I mean, it's definitely a big concern of everybody involved with the music scene there.

CONAN: And, Derek, this question of keeping the scene going, that's a real issue now, isn't it?

Mr. DOUGET: It is, especially since the storm, yeah.

CONAN: The clubs that are down there--you heard mention of Tipitina's, but there's a whole slew of them, some much smaller than Tipitina's.

Mr. DOUGET: Right.

CONAN: Yeah.

Mr. DOUGET: Right.

CONAN: By the way, this new crisis has, of course, put the musicians of New Orleans in a different position. If you'd like to find out ways to help musicians through this crisis, you can go visit our Web site which is at and there'll be some links there to other organizations who are trying to help musicians who were scattered to the four winds. We're fortunate enough to have landed two of them here in our studio in Washington, DC. We're talking with David Mooney, born and raised in New Orleans, third place winner at the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Guitar Competition. And with Derek Douget, born in Gonzales, Louisiana, now musical director of the Ellis Marsalis Quintet.

When we come back from a short break, we're going to be joined by someone just a couple of years older. Allan Toussaint is going to be with us. He's been blown into the city of New York and he's going to join us from the studios of our member station there, WNYC. So stay tuned for that.

More music after the break and if you'd like to join the conversation about our debt to New Orleans in terms of music, especially if you are a musician, give us a call: (800) 989-8255; (800) 889-TALK. The e-mail address is

Back after the break. I'm Neal Conan. It's TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

(Soundbite of music)

CONAN: This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in NPR's Studio 4A here in Washington, DC.

(Soundbite of applause)

CONAN: And as you can hear, we have a live, if somewhat slow, audience here in the studio today...

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: enjoy an hour of the music of New Orleans performed by some of her displaced sons. If you'd like to hear more of the music of New Orleans after our performers finish their sets today, you can go to our Web site at

If you're a musician influenced by the Crescent City or if you just have a particularly good story about a show you saw in New Orleans, give us a call: (800) 989-8255; (800) 989-TALK. E-mailing us: you can do that at

Still with us in 4A are jazz guitarist David Mooney and saxophonist Derek Douget. And joining us now is one of the legends of New Orleans, pianist/songwriter/singer/producer/Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Allan Toussaint. He escaped the New Orleans floodwaters to join friends in New York City. He joins us from the studios of member station WNYC in New York.

Welcome to TALK OF THE NATION. Thank you so much for taking the time to be with us today.

(Soundbite of piano playing)

Mr. ALLAN TOUSSAINT (Singer/Pianist/Songwriter/Arranger/Producer): Thank you very much.

CONAN: Ah-ha. And I see you're at the piano there?

Mr. TOUSSAINT: Oh, yes.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: Now you've performed, as I understand it, in New York City since you arrived from New Orleans. How's the reception been?

Mr. TOUSSAINT: It's been overwhelming for all of us. All of the New Orleans musicians are just totally elated.

CONAN: Now we know that we heard a clip of tape of you at the beginning of the program. We know you rode out Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. What happened? How did you get out?

Mr. TOUSSAINT: Well, I eventually got a chartered school bus to the Baton Rouge airport, whereas I was able to get a Continental flight out to New York and here I am.

CONAN: So a story--there had to be a little bit more drama than that.

Mr. TOUSSAINT: Oh, it was a lot more drama. I was trying to shorten that story. But I thought I'd stick the storm out because I've stuck it out so many times before and I thought I'd stick this one out. So after--the day before it hit, I checked into a hotel on Canal Street and I thought I'd stick it out. But when the--couple of days later when the canal had that breach in it and water began to rise, I knew I wouldn't be getting back to my home in the near future. So I waded through calf-deep water in the back of the hotel around the corner to the Monteleone Hotel where it was dry--in fact, the French Quarter was pretty dry...


Mr. TOUSSAINT: ...purchased a ticket that was supposed to be for a bus going to Houston, and the bus--after four hours, the bus never arrived. So I saw a friend patrolling the area and he told me that he had a chartered school bus going to Baton Rouge, so I boarded that and spent the night in the Baton Rouge airport. And the next morning at 5:55, I caught a flight to New York after being invited over and over again by my friend Josh Feigenbaum who lives here.

CONAN: Well, I have a list in front of me of tunes I know you're ready to play. Do you want me to pick one, or do you want to pick one?

Mr. TOUSSAINT: OK. Would you like instrumental or vocal?

CONAN: How--do you sing to "Southern Nights"?

Mr. TOUSSAINT: Yes, I do, a bit.

CONAN: All right. Well, let's hear that.


(Soundbite of Toussaint performing "Southern Nights")

Mr. TOUSSAINT: (Singing) Southern nights. Have you ever felt a Southern night? Free as a breeze, not to mention the trees, whistling tunes that you know and love so. Southern skies. Just as good even when close your eyes. I apologize to anyone who can truly say that he has found a better way. Yea.

Feels so good. Feels so good it's frightening; wished I could stop this world from fighting. La, da, da, la, da, da, da, da. La, da, da, da, da. La, la, la, da, da, da. Southern skies. Have you ever noticed Southern skies? Its precious beauty lies deep beyond the eye, and it goes rushing through your soul like the stories told of ole.

Oh, man. He and his dog they walk the old land, every flower touched his cold hand. As he slowly walked by, the weeping willow would cry for joy. It would cry for joy. Mysteries, like this and many others in the trees. They all blow in the night in the Southern skies.

(Soundbite of applause)

Mr. TOUSSAINT: "Southern Nights."

CONAN: The great Allan Toussaint joining us from WNYC in New York. This is TALK OF THE NATION's tribute to the music of New Orleans.

And let's get a caller on the line. This is--Is this Christopher? Are you there? I've done something horrible here. I've done something terrible to--I have to close this screen here and now I can push--now I can push the button and now I can push the button. Now I can't push the button.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: Hmm. Well, Kevin Wade will get right on that situation. In the meantime, as long as we've got Allan Toussaint there in New York, how about another tune while I'm figuring out the technology here.

Mr. TOUSSAINT: Certainly.

(Soundbite of Toussaint playing piano; applause)

CONAN: Allan, you can't hear it but there's a lot of applause here at Studio 4A for that performance.

I wonder, you grew up--your mentor, as I've read about it, was a man named Professor Longhair. Tell us a little bit about him.

(Soundbite of Toussaint plays piano)

Mr. TOUSSAINT: That's who he is.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. TOUSSAINT: Professor Longhair. Just--when I first heard Professor for the first time, with all that wild syncopation going on and taking liberties that I didn't know you could take, it knocked my socks off, I must say. I heard him as a--when I was a very young boy and before that everything was pretty much one-two-three-four, one-two-ready-play. But when I heard Professor, everything changed. The piano took a different shape; it got wider and longer. He was just an outstanding man. And his concept for vocals was other than I had ever heard, as well. He had a kind of gravely voice and sometimes he would sing and hit a note and jump a whole octave down. I had no reason why one would ever do that.


Mr. TOUSSAINT: Just an amazing man.

CONAN: I listened to him and I never thought you could smoke that many cigarettes in your whole life.

Mr. TOUSSAINT: Absolutely. He was quite a man.

CONAN: Well, let's see if we can get this telephone system working again. Yes, I think we have. Christopher! Christopher joins us on the line from Brooklyn, New York.

CHRISTOPHER (Caller): Great. Are you there?

CONAN: Yes, we're here. We can finally hear you. Appreciate you hanging on with us.

CHRISTOPHER: Great. Well, I just wanted to say hi to Mooney and Douget.

Mr. MOONEY: Hey, Chris.

Mr. DOUGET: What's up, Chris?

CHRISTOPHER: Yeah, great, man. I'm hearing you. The radio came back in so I'm getting to hear you now and hearing you all play and, Mr. Toussaint, just really--I'm getting a little choked up right now.

CONAN: Well, how do you know Derek and David?

CHRISTOPHER: Well, I work with them back home, and Mooney and I escaped together more or less from the city. And I work with Mooney on a regular basis several times a week and we're close collaborators.

CONAN: Hmm. And as you listen to this music, I'm wondering how you think about what it's going to be like when you go back to New Orleans and what that city's going to be like and what the music scene's going to be like.

CHRISTOPHER: Well, I can only think that the spirit of the people of New Orleans will prevail and that at some point, everything will be back even greater than it was. Of course, there's no precedent for this type of situation and it's hard to say. And all--I think all of our plans have changed on a 20-minute interval around here.

CONAN: Mm-hmm.

CHRISTOPHER: You know, one minute we think we can go home soon and then the next minute we think we'll never be able to go home. It goes back and forth like that. But I'm certain that we'll all be back together again soon. Things will be better. I think ultimately, this will bring us all closer together.

CONAN: Allan Toussaint, I wondered about your opinion on that.

Mr. TOUSSAINT: I firmly agree with everything he said. That's the right spirit. I can't wait to get back and get started.

CONAN: Doug, let me ask you, is this--is this a place--New Orleans--Derek, excuse me--where you can make a living as a gigging musician, where you can play in those clubs and get by?

Mr. DOUGET: Absolutely. You can thrive. Absolutely.

CONAN: Do you agree, David?

Mr. MOONEY: Yeah, definitely. I mean, I've played music full-time. I mean, I taught as well, but yeah, I mean, I've never had any doubt that I could get by just playing music there.

CONAN: And you guys are young guys, at least in comparison with maybe me and Mr. Toussaint, and do you look forward to having your careers in New Orleans?

Mr. MOONEY: Yes, New Orleans and elsewhere. I mean, New Orleans is my favorite--would be my favorite place to live, yes. But I mean, I'd like to travel as well.

CONAN: Mm-hmm. Well, everybody likes to travel.

Mr. MOONEY: Yes.

CONAN: Doug?

Mr. DOUGET: Yeah. I mean, I would definitely like to play--that's OK.

CONAN: Yeah. Derek, yeah.

Mr. DOUGET: Play as much as possible. And like David said, I like to travel as much as possible as well. But you know, you never forget, you know, your roots.

CONAN: We're talking about the music of New Orleans, the debt which all of owe to that city musically. You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

And we have a question here in the studio, in 4A. Go ahead, sir.

NEIL: I'm Neal. And originally from North Carolina--another Neil. The question I have is, is any effort being made in any of the locations where musicians have landed to try to get them together and--other than, for example, the Higher Ground Concert, which took place in New York, which wasn't all New Orleans musicians but was for the benefit of them. Is any effort being made to get them together and continue sort of a subculture until things can straighten out?

Mr. DOUGET: I heard from a good friend of mine who was in Houston--I hope he's not anymore--that Houston for a while was a place where a lot of the musicians went, a lot of the brass bands like the--I think the Soul Rebels were there, the Rebirth Brass Band. Kermit Ruffins was there. Several other musicians. I mean, that's the only place that I know of where there was a, you know, I guess significant gathering of musicians from New Orleans.

CONAN: Mr. Toussaint, what do you hear?

Mr. TOUSSAINT: Oh, yes, I am hearing similar things all over the place. And another wonderful thing has taken place. Paul Simon, just the other evening, took me around to show me a mobile unit, a medical unit, and it has to do with Music Cares. And it's a full hospitals on wheels. And it's definitely designed to take care of musicians' needs because many people are displaced in all kinds of strange places. But he definitely wanted the word to get out to all of the musicians that these units exist, and he's located them in different areas, and he's getting the word out that that's a place to go for medical help. And that's so very important as well with so many people being displaced these days.

CONAN: Let's get another caller on the line. This is Amelia. Amelia calling from...

AMELIA (Caller): Yes.

CONAN: ...Portland, Oregon. Go ahead, please.

AMELIA: Yes. Well, I wanted to share two of my favorite New Orleans musical experiences. And I should mention that I'm not a musician myself, but I'm married to one. My husband's a jazz bassist and he was born in New Orleans. But 20 years ago, we were at Jazz Fest and had the opportunity to hear The Neville Brothers live for the first time. We went to a midnight riverboat concert and they got on stage and launched into "Hey Pocky Way," and the hair on the back of our necks just rose up. It was absolutely electrifying. We had never heard anything like it. And we have been passionate fans of the Nevilles ever since. It was a really, really stunning musical experience.

And the other one I wanted to mention, keying off your first caller, who said that he'd heard the Cajun or zydeco radio station driving through the area. We had heard about a wonderful event in Mamou, Louisiana, at Fred's Lounge, which is a Saturday morning get-together of musicians playing traditional Cajun music. And we flew into New Orleans on a Friday night, got in the rental car, drove to a motel in Mamou, got up the next morning and arrived at Fred's at about 9 in the morning to find the place just hopping. And that was a ball; that was just fantastic. And I danced my feet off. All these wonderful old guys were asking me to two-step with them, and it was just totally delightful.

CONAN: Well, Allan Toussaint, there's a lot of clubs in and around New Orleans, that whole area, where people have left a lot of feet that they've danced off.

Mr. TOUSSAINT: Oh, yes, yes. Feet don't fail me now.

CONAN: Amelia, thanks very much for the call. We appreciate it.

AMELIA: Sure. Thank you.

CONAN: Bye-bye.

AMELIA: Bye-bye.

CONAN: We're going to take a short break. When we come back, we're going to hear some more music from our guests, from Allan Toussaint in New York and from Derek Douget and David Mooney here in Studio 4A in Washington. Again, if you'd like to join the conversation, give us a phone call at (800) 989-8255, (800) 989-TALK. The e-mail address:

I'm Neal Conan. It's TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.


CONAN: This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Studio 4A in Washington.

(Soundbite of applause)

CONAN: Much quicker that time. We're enjoying the music of New Orleans this hour.

And here are the headlines from some of the stories we're following here today at NPR News. Hurricane Rita has been downgraded to a Category 4 storm. That still means winds as strong as 150 miles an hour. Forecasters said it could lose steam, though, as it blows towards the coasts of Texas and Louisiana. And the nominee for chief justice of the United States is headed for a full Senate confirmation vote today. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved John Roberts' nomination by a vote of 13-to-5. You can hear details on those stories and of course much more coming up later today on "All Things Considered" from NPR News.

Tomorrow at this time, join host Ira Flatow for special coverage following Hurricane Rita and preparations along the battered Gulf Coast for yet another giant storm.

But that's tomorrow. Today we're remembering some of the things the last hurricane took away. The clubs of the New Orleans French Quarter have mostly been dark since Hurricane Katrina, their musicians scattered across the country. We're re-creating as best we can a set list from a good night at one of those venues. Guitarist David Mooney and saxophonist Derek Douget opened for us. Pianist and songwriter Allan Toussaint joined them from the stage during the last segment. And of course we've got our audience here in Washington.

(Soundbite of applause)

CONAN: They're going to learn. By the end of the show, they'll have learned.

Our imaginary music club might have had a real home in Snug Harbor, one of New Orleans' best-known jazz clubs. Owner George Brumat joins us now from Snug Harbor, where he rode out Hurricane Katrina and the days afterwards.

It's nice to have you on TALK OF THE NATION.

Mr. GEORGE BRUMAT (Owner, Snug Harbor): It's nice to be here. And hello to all you talented cats. It's good to hear you're still swinging.

CONAN: New Orleans is under another evacuation order today, George. Are you going to leave this time?

Mr. BRUMAT: I'm not. I'm kind of like--I've become officially semideputized. I have a work permit and some--I'm trying to provide a service if I can, but in fact I'm staying out of the way. And hopefully this Rita thing will fizzle and we'll be OK and we'll be ready to repatriate beginning tomorrow, beginning Saturday or whatever. But let's hope that it fizzles out on the coast.

CONAN: I think we can all say amen to that.

Mr. BRUMAT: Yes.

CONAN: The Web page for your club, Snug Harbor, asks that others help out the musicians of New Orleans by hiring them to play in other cities, at least for the time being. I wonder, are you hearing from musicians that they've been able to find gigs elsewhere?

Mr. BRUMAT: I've heard from a few, indirectly in some instances; in some instances personally. Maurice Brown called me. He said that he was actually going through a spate of gigs. And I heard about a couple of others. I heard about Torkanowsky, David Torkanowsky and Hector Gallardo in Lafayette. They're busy. I heard of some other gigging by--here and there. I haven't heard from the Main Boys(ph). I heard Jason(ph) talk; I sent a couple of people to him via cell phone. And I hope Ellis is all right. Anyone checked out on the boss?

CONAN: Let's hear from Derek Douget.

Mr. DOUGET: I talked to him yesterday, George. He's fine.

Mr. BRUMAT: Yeah, cool. Tell the coach hello.

Mr. DOUGET: Definitely.

Mr. BRUMAT: We're holding down the fort. The mikes are still up, ready to fire up. The moment we do, we'll do a little benefit for the military here, who have been wonderful. I can't say enough about all of them, but particularly the 82nd. Unbelievable group of fine young men, unbelievable, this all-volunteer special forces. They're so cool. Every one of them's hip to jazz, every one of them educated. It's really wonderful how cool everyone was, but the 82nd particularly. I want to say that publicly.

CONAN: Allan Toussaint, you might want to get down to New Orleans for that concert?

Mr. TOUSSAINT: Oh, definitely. And I just wanted to let the gentleman know that, yes, Ellis was here in New York at the rehearsal the other evening, and I...

Mr. BRUMAT: Cool.

Mr. TOUSSAINT: He and Jason and also his son from Washington, DC. The whole gang was here.

Mr. BRUMAT: Cool.


Mr. BRUMAT: And you know we'll roll out the red carpet whenever you step in.

Mr. TOUSSAINT: Well, thank you. Thank you. You've been wonderful to me.

Mr. BRUMAT: One of the bosses of bosses, Allan Toussaint. God bless. And you cats, too, Derek and David, nice to hear you guys. You're blowing great.

Mr. DOUGET: You're all right.

Mr. MOONEY: Thanks, George.

Mr. BRUMAT: You're all right, man.

CONAN: George, good luck to you.

Mr. BRUMAT: Good luck to you. And keep up the good work. And keep America into jazz as much as you can. NPR, keep swinging for jazz. And say hello to Fred Kasten, the guy at UNO.

CONAN: Will do...


CONAN: If we can find a way to get in touch with him, we will.

Mr. BRUMAT: Thank you.

CONAN: OK. George Brumat is the owner of the Snug Harbor jazz club in New Orleans and he joined us by phone from the club in New Orleans, where he may be riding out yet another hurricane. We'll have to see. And again, hope for his sake and everybody else's that it's no more than a glancing blow anywhere, but especially in New Orleans.

Allan Toussaint, do you have another tune for us?

Mr. TOUSSAINT: Sure thing.

(Soundbite of "With You in Mind")

Mr. TOUSSAINT: (Singing) With you in mind, things aren't as bad as they seem. With you in mind, well, I can fill my wildest dreams. With you in mind, I can do anything, I know I can. With you in mind, honey, with you in mind. With you in mind, I went out looking for the best. With you in mind, 'cause you deserve nothing less. With you in mind, I've done so many things love can bring. With you in mind, honey, with you mind. Like the flower drinking from the falling rain, the same rain that could wash it away; instead, it gives it strength and gives it water, and before you know, another day. With you in mind, I'll climb the mountain to the top. With you in mind, I know love's fountain will not stop. With you in mind, I can do anything, I know I can. With you in mind, honey, with you in mind. With you in mind, with you in mind.

(Soundbite of applause)

CONAN: Allan Toussaint, "With You in Mind." And during that song, somebody sent me a message, Allan. Is this true, that you debuted at Snug Harbor?

Mr. TOUSSAINT: Oh, yes. Well, the jazz CD that I--most recent jazz CD--in fact, the first jazz CD I ever put together, it was debuted at Snug Harbor. And they gave me a chance to do whatever I'd like to do, and I just thought that was wonderful of them. The CD is called "Going Places." And I released two at a time, one with my brother and I called "Tou Plus Tou." I'm T-O-U and he's T-O-U-S-S-A-I-N-T.

CONAN: Now we have a spelling lesson. Of course if we could spell, we wouldn't be in radio.


CONAN: Thank you so much for being with us today. And are you going to be playing anywhere soon that people listening might want to be interested in?

Mr. TOUSSAINT: Most definite. I'm going to be at Joe's Pub this coming Sunday, and it'll be midday, like 12:00. So that's really an interesting time for musicians. We don't know how to treat that hour.

CONAN: Breakfast concert. Yeah.

Mr. TOUSSAINT: I'll also be there in the very near future, like, on the 29th. But on the 25th I will be there at noon.

CONAN: And we can't wait until we are able to talk to you again from New Orleans.

Mr. TOUSSAINT: Thank you.

CONAN: Allan Toussaint joined us from the studios of our member station there in New York City, WNYC.

Here's an e-mail we got from Virginia Newman(ph), who--`The other day I was driving along and heard Louis Armstrong singing "Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans?" and just about broke down crying. I grew up in Mississippi, about 150 miles from New Orleans. My first job was a reporter with the Times-Picayune. My best music memory is like a dream. It was during Mardi Gras at about 3 AM. We came upon the sight of a lifetime: Louis Armstrong and a bunch of New Orleans musicians were in the street in front of Pat O'Brien's place jamming. We joined the crowd and listened while they played everything. They finally ended about 5 AM with "Bourbon Street Parade," the song, and it's never to be forgotten.' Well, thank you, Virginia, for that memory.

Derek Douget, as you look ahead to the future in New Orleans, do you think it's going to be the same kind of a place? It can't go through this and not change.

Mr. DOUGET: Or course. I really--I wish I could answer that question. I don't--I hope that at least the spirit is there, the spirit, you know, of sort of improvisation, soulfulness. I hope that remains. But, you know, I really have no idea what it's going to be like, you know.

CONAN: There have been thoughts that the new New Orleans might be more a theme park. You know, the French Quarter, a few jazz clubs, and not the city it once was.

Mr. DOUGET: I think that's, you know, worst-case scenario.

CONAN: Would you agree, David?

Mr. MOONEY: I can't imagine it ever being like a theme park. I mean, if--maybe people that come there just for vacation might think of it that way, but I don't think the city would ever really be like that. You know, there's too much vitality to the people there and the city itself for it to ever become like Disneyland or something.

CONAN: Let's get another caller on the line. This is Philip. Philip joins us from outside of New Orleans. Is that right?

PHILIP (Caller): Hi. Yeah. Well, I'm currently driving through Alabama. I left New Orleans today. But I just wanted to tell you guys about (technical difficulties) the next generation of musicians and (technical difficulties)...

CONAN: I'm afraid that your cell phone is betraying you there, Philip.

PHILIP: Oh, I'm...

CONAN: Nope. I'm afraid we can't hear you. So good luck. Drive carefully, OK?

Let's see if we can get yet another caller on the line before we run out of time here. Let's go to--if I can--right--there's the right button--Dave in Eugene, Oregon.

DAVE (Caller): Hello. I'm here.

CONAN: Go ahead. You're on the line.

DAVE: Yeah, I'm a big fan of Allan Toussaint. I guess he's left the show, but...


DAVE: ...anyway, I heard stories that New Orleans musicians lots of times show up to jam sessions with kind of lesser gear or, like, really cheap gear and compete with one another and say, `Well, you know, I brought this really cheap horn and look at the tones I can get out of it compared to your really expensive horns.' Is that true?

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: We've only got one horn player here, Derek.

Mr. DOUGET: No, not that I know of. I mean, I know people that, you know, because of the circumstances they have to play an instrument that I guess wouldn't be up to their normal standards, but I wouldn't say that that's a normal thing, no.

CONAN: But the kind of trash talking that goes on in these...

Mr. DOUGET: Oh, definitely. There's a lot of competition in the city. It's healthy, though.

CONAN: That's how you get good, isn't it?

Mr. DOUGET: Of course. Of course.

Mr. MOONEY: It's good-natured competition.

Mr. DOUGET: Yeah, it's just all--hello.

CONAN: Oh, I'm sure nothing but good-natured, yeah.

Mr. DOUGET: Nothing malicious, you know.

CONAN: Thanks very much for the call, Dave.

DAVE: OK. Thank you.

CONAN: We're talking about the music of New Orleans and the musical debt that all of us owe to that city. And you're listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

And it would be a crime to leave the discussion of music of New Orleans without another tune from our friends here in the studio, David Mooney and Derek Douget.

Mr. MOONEY: This is a piece by Duke Ellington that he wrote about New Orleans or he wrote for Louis Armstrong, somewhat about New Orleans, called "Azalea."

(Soundbite of "Azalea")

Mr. MOONEY: (Singing) It was such a fine spring day down Louisiana way with fragrance divine and such magnificent regalia, oh, so fine, azalea. Oh, what a lovely sight in red, pink and white. I can't help but believe that nothing evil can assail you, you're so nice, azalea. You at ease on the knees of the moss-covered tree whose tops met your mate on high ceilings in the churchlike calm of a cypress swamp. I've yet to get that same strange feeling. I've got to go back there to find that blossom fair I always dream of, 'cause with you who could be a failure, my first love, my very first love, azalea.

CONAN: "Azalea."

(Soundbite of applause)

CONAN: David Mooney and Derek Douget.

We've got a couple of minutes left. You got something else?

Mr. MOONEY: Sure.

CONAN: All right.

Mr. MOONEY: One, two, a-one, two, three, four...

(Soundbite of music)

CONAN: I'd like to thank all of our guests today, David Mooney and Derek Douget, who you hear playing behind me, and of course Allan Toussaint, who joined us from our studios at WNYC in New York. We'd also like to thank George Brumat, the owner of Snug Harbor, the New Orleans jazz club.

(Soundbite of music)


CONAN: Ira Flatow is here tomorrow, and Lynn Neary will be here for the next two weeks while I'm on vacation. See you in October.

This is TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News. I'm Neal Conan.

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