FARAI CHIDEYA, host:
Hurricane Katrina up rooted the lives of hundreds of thousands of New Orleans residents. Counted among what was lost were the lives of citizens, homes, businesses and a part of the Bayou culture. Several musicians who called New Orleans home are not only trying to restore their lives, but a bit of the heritage of the city as well, the music.
The New Orleans Social Club's new CD is titled 'Sing Me Back Home'. Two members of the club include Ivan Neville of the Neville brothers and Leo Nocentelli of the Meters. Welcome to the both of you.
Mr. LEO NOCENTELLI (Musician): Glad to be here.
CHIDEYA: Let me get to your music. What is the New Orleans Social Club? How did, Leo, this whole project get started?
LEO NOCENTELLI, (Musician): Well, if you're asking me, I got a call from Leo--
CHIEDYA: Different Leo.
Mr. NOCENTELLI: Yeah, Leo Sax, as a matter fact, asking me to participate in this project that you know that had to do with Katrina. And that automatically opened my eyes right there. I was already into it but I was doing some other things with the Meters at Madison Square Garden. I was performing and donating my time to different situations here in L.A. for the people that kind of migrated out here. That kind of captured my interest and sounded like something like I wanted to be involved with.
CHIDEYA: And Ivan and what about this whole recording session, it sounds--the liner note to this album described this recording session that you guys had. Tell me kind of what the vibe was there?
Mr. IVAN NEVILLE (Musician): It was a very healing experience for myself and I would think that it was very healing for all of us. I had relocated to Austin temporarily, which I'm still here now. And like Leo said, we got the call from Leo Sax and the project was going to happen here in Austin, Texas; and several of us were relocated here. And we convened in Austin, Texas in this recording studio, and it was just magical.
(Soundbite of music)
CHIDEYA: Leo, you were among one of the many musicians who is multi-talented. You're all over this album, doing different things, back up vocals, guitar. What was it like for you to just get together with folks who were kind of in the middle of this tragedy?
Mr. NOCENTELLI: Well, when I first got there, I really didn't know what to expect. All of a sudden, these are guys that I knew, that I grew up with, performed with all the time, like my buddies, my homeboys. Then I felt their pain too, because they actually lived in New Orleans when all of this was happening. It was a feeling for me where I was doing this for people that I didn't know and then here's my boys I was doing this for too.
(Soundbite of Music)
NEW ORLEANS SOCIAL CLUB: (Singing) It ain't me, it ain't me. I ain't no [unintelligible].
CHIDEYA: The cover of Fortunate Son definitely stands out to me. Ivan, you did an amazing job with it. Tell us a little bit about why you and the band chose that song, because it's kind of an ironic song. It comes out of a different time of history. Why did you choose to sing it on this album?
Mr. NEVILLE: When Leo Sax called me, he had a couple of songs in mind for me to do, and I wasn't feeling it. And I think I hung up the phone with him and I called him back like 10 minutes later and I said, how about Fortunate Son, a John Fogerty song.
NEW ORLEANS SOCIAL CLUB: (Singing) I ain't no millionaire's son, ain't no millionaire. It ain't me, no, it ain't me, I ain't no fortunate one.
Mr. NEVILLE: We rehearsed like one day or something. It wasn't like really a rehearsal. We just kind of touched on the ideas and how we would interpret the songs. And that was one that we just did that thing to it, between Leo and George and Raima(ph) Webber(ph) and myself and Henry Butler, we just did something to that song that was just magical, that New Orleans kind of second line, funky beat. This song is saying something.
Mr. NOCENTELLI: And there's another song, like This is My Country. Some people say we don't have the right to say it's my country.
NEW ORLEANS SOCIAL CLUB: (Singing) I paid 300 years or more. I was swayed by the sweat and welts on my back. This is my country.
Mr. NOCENTELLI: We're talking about people a race thing; we're talking about a colored thing. It's written by Curtis Mayfield, and he was an activist when it comes down to songwriting. And basically it had to do with most of the people that got hurt down there is people of color. So each one of the songs, for some reason or another had something to do with what happened, with what the event was in New Orleans.
Mr. JOHN BUTE (Singer): (Singing) Why?
Mr. NEVILLE: And also there's a song that John Bute(ph) sang; it's called Why. It's an Annie Leonard song. And that song is pretty much kind of like about a relationship or something.
Mr. BUTE: (Singing) How many times must I have to try to tell you that I'm sorry for the things that I've done?
Mr. NEVILLE: The words are still the same, but the feeling and the vibe of that song and John Bute's interpretation of it, it kind of relates to the whole vibe of the people that were affected.
Mr. NOCENTELLI: It reflected not only just songs or somebody's talent or the way somebody sings, or whatever, the song brought out the emotion and everybody that performed on the thing. It's an intangible that you could feel.
CHIDEYA: That was Leo Nocentelli and Ivan Neville, members of the New Orleans Social Club. Their CD, Send Me Back Home hits stores on April 4. Thank you both for joining us.
Mr. NOCENTELLI: You're welcome.
Mr. NEVILLE: Thank you.
(Soundbite of music)
Mr. BUTE: (Singing) That's why it hurts so bad to hear the words keep on falling from your mouth, falling from your mouth...
CHIDEYA: You can hear full length songs that you just got a taste of in this report, plus find out if the band is coming to a club near you, just visit our website, npr.org.
Mr. BUTE: (Singing) Why? Tell me why?
CHIDEYA: That's our program for today. Thanks for joining us. To listen to the show, visit npr.org.
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