We've been told that when the holiday season rolls around, people are filled with warm, fuzzy feelings like good cheer, brotherhood and fondness toward their fellow man. Well, we all know that while the state of our fair city's media coverage ebbs more than it flows, and our national profile might be less than it once was, there's still a ton of rebuilding to do -- physically and culturally. To that end, while you're still bubbling over with all that goodwill towards men, think about donating time, money or goods to one of the charities below. All benefit local musicians, and all could use a hand.
Since Katrina, the New Orleans Musicians Hurricane Relief Fund (NOMHRF) has had a general humanitarian mission towards local artists -- helping match musicians in need with housing, medical care, legal help, replacement equipment and gigs. Preservation Hall, home of the NOMHRF, is opening its doors for a special all-ages afternoon Christmas concert. It's intended to bring the tourist hot spot back as a destination for locals. Visit its Web site to make a donation, find out about volunteering, or just to get the schedule for the gigs they underwrite around town. Contact: New Orleans Musicians Hurricane Relief Fund (800-957-4026; www.nomhrf.org).
Dedicated in 1998, the New Orleans Musicians' Clinic's (NOMC) mission has been to help uninsured musicians access affordable health care and is sponsored by the LSU Health Care Network, the Daughters of Charity Services of New Orleans and the Jazz and Heritage Foundation. After Katrina, the clinic expanded its mission to help locate musicians, bring them home and put them to work, as well as keep them mentally and physically healthy. The clinic, among other things, has sponsored gigs where musicians can play and hang out as well as get on-site health screenings, and it's working to fill in the dearth of outpatient clinic services for uninsured patients in the city. Contact: New Orleans Musicians' Clinic (895-5748; www.savenolamusic.com).
Prompted by New Orleans natives Harry Connick Jr. and Branford and Ellis Marsalis, the national affordable-housing provider Habitat for Humanity has committed to and already built a portion of a planned community in the Upper Ninth Ward aimed at New Orleans musicians. The group, which helps first-time low-income homebuyers walk through a facilitated purchase process, has bent its rules imaginatively to serve the musicians' unique needs, like providing rental units and finding ways to verify income from the sporadic nature of performing gigs. Contact: Habitat for Humanity Musicians' Village (861-2077; www.habitat-nola.org).
The Tipitina's Foundation, based out of New Orleans' legendary music club, has a host of programs focused on keeping local music going. The Instruments A-Comin' initiative raises money to buy instruments to donate to New Orleans public schools. The Tipitina's Internship Program teaches students all aspects of the music business, from performance and recording to the nuts and bolts of the industry, with master seminars from stars like Allen Toussaint. The Sunday Music Workshop series brings in local artists from different genres to teach and jam with kids on weekend afternoons. Contact: Tipitina's Foundation (866-372-0512; www.tipitinasfoundation.org).
When Bonerama trombonist Craig Klein got back to town after Katrina, he found 10 feet of water in his Arabi home. Besides gutting and renovating his own place (plus playing a taxing gig schedule), he also, along with buddy Armand "Sheik" Richardson, put together the Arabi Wrecking Krewe. The group of musicians and volunteers has gutted more than 80 musicians' homes over the year, and its forces are growing every day. Volunteers are always welcome, as are donations of cash, tools and supplies. Contact: Arabi Wrecking Krewe (www.arabiwreckingkrewe.com).
After losing its longtime studio in Armstrong Park, WWOZ had a safe landing at the French Market Corporation building, but it still relies mostly on listener donations to keep the award-winning free-format jazz, blues and roots music programming going. WWOZ, with its 24-hour streaming Internet broadcast, plus sponsored live performances, airtime and on-air interviews with local musicians, remains one of the best ambassadors of New Orleans culture for the world beyond the Crescent City. Contact: WWOZ-FM (568-1238; www.wwoz.org).
Mardi Gras Indian Hall of Fame curator Cherice Harrison-Nelson has been on a near decadelong, mostly one-woman mission to bring tradition bearers like Social Aid and Pleasure Club paraders and Mardi Gras Indians into New Orleans schools to share their culture with kids as part of the regular academic curriculum. She's gotten aid from multiple sources, including the NOMHRF, the E.D. and F. Man Katrina Fund, Louisiana Voices, the Guardians Institute, the NOMC and a collaboration with Basin St. Station for the curriculum and her new Big Queen and Big Chief book drive project. Funds are still needed for expenses like instruments for the classroom. Contact: Indigenous Arts Curriculum at the Wicker School (firstname.lastname@example.org). Christmas Eve At Preservation Hall with Lars Edegran and the St. Peter All-Stars, Topsy Chapman, Solid Harmony and Big Al Carson
2:30 p.m. Sun., Dec. 24
Preservation Hall, 726 St. Peter St., 522-2841
- Big Al Carson plays at Preservation Hall on Christmas Eve in a benefit for the New Orleans Musicians Hurricane Relief Fund.