NOLA 300 Music
Listening to 300 Years of New Orleans Music
Editor's letter and table of contents
To close out 2018, this issue’s special music section turns its ears inward. The essays collected here explore how New Orleans and New Orleanians have been listening over the past three hundred years—how songs shape us and tell our stories, how they pass through generations and across borders to make a history. You’ll read about pop tunes that reached turn-of-the-twentieth-century sophisticates from the stage of the storied French Opera House, the California soul band that became a Crescent City icon, the local kids who found their own sound when Trent Reznor came to stay, and the surprising origins of a hymn that became a second-line staple. Two musicologists follow the path of a horn riff as mobile as the parades it propels, a historian considers what Alan Lomax and Jelly Roll Morton didn’t talk about during their landmark 1938 Library of Congress recordings, and a journalist finds a story under the story of a 1956 film where Louis Armstrong stole the show.
Our contributors are music critics, fiction writers, reporters, DJs, musicians, curators, historians—and often, more than one of the above. (Two of them are even Grammy winners.) What they all share is that they’re expert listeners in a city that never stops making music. Tune in.
Quick links to the full music section below:
Maurice Carlos Ruffin on New Orleans expats Louis Armstrong and Lil Wayne
Jennifer Odell on the everlasting “I’ll Fly Away”
Matt Sakakeeny and Oliver Wang on the well-traveled Tuba Fats riff
Jack Belsom on popular song at the French Opera House
Rob Walker on the Morning 40 Federation’s collab with Galactic, “Liquor Pang”
Iris Martin Cohen on the cathartic power of parading and noise
Tom Piazza on being tuned to WWOZ 90.7 FM
Elijah Wald on one of Jelly Roll’s most intriguing cuts
Holly Hobbs speaks to Mia X about the songs that shaped her sound
Ben Sandmel looks back on the power of radio
John Swenson delves into Louis Armstrong’s High Society and the myth of the jazz festival
David Kunian refutes barriers in the world of New Orleans jazz
Melissa Weber, a.k.a DJ Soul Sister, speaks to veteran DJ Captain Charles – and also writes fondly of the most New Orleans band that’s not from New Orleans, Frankie Beverly and Maze
Alex Rawls probes the scar Trent Reznor’s time in New Orleans left on local EDM artists
Ladee Hubbard examines Juvenile’s smash “Ha”
Gwen Thompkins digs up fond childhood musical memories
Ned Sublette looks at the cultural, historical and musical line in the sand that is Canal Street
Michael Tisserand sings a love song to Louis Prima’s “Buona Sera”
Thoughts, comments and song picks from New Orleans’ finest musicians, authors, filmmakers and fans.
Tulane class of 2018 grad Justin Gitelman speaks to the young musicians forging the city’s sonic future, including Stoop Kids, the Grid and Khris Royal, with original audio.
A Spotify playlist featuring songs that inspired this issue.