New Orleans has figured into this election season as a reminder of the Bush administration’s bungled, uncaring response to Katrina. Yet amid so much talk of hope and change, on this anniversary of disaster, many in New Orleans hope for a change of policy—the kind of federal assistance that can make a dent in crises of housing, public safety, education, health care and levee protection. It makes sense for musicians to kick-start that conversation.
It’s easy in New Orleans these days to read meaning and purpose into every lyric or song choice—was Sheryl Crow commenting on the housing crisis by covering “Gimme Shelter,” or was she just doing a Stones tune? Also, it’s impossible to take in all the music and all the messages emanating from the Jazz Fest’s 10 stages. Still, a good deal of what I did catch was timely, topical and worth remembering.