"The roots of our music, our culture, had suddenly been wiped out.." When the levees broke in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, New Orleans was devastated. Among the multitude of victims was the "cultural gumbo" of the city's vital music scene, built up over many decades. The city is "the crucible of music," says U2's The Edge. "Without New Orleans, there'd be no rock 'n' roll."
Music Rising, now available for free online viewing courtesy of our friends at SnagFilms, documents the efforts of musicians to help their fellow artists to continue playing and performing -- and to encourage musicians who had been forced to leave the city to come home. The film begins on a somber note, as the devastation is recapped. One musician sadly surveys the ruins of his home before leaving town, declaring that he will never return; he is emblematic of the many departed musicians. Record Producer Bob Ezrin, whose quoted words open this article, toured the city and admitted he could not quite process the extent of the damage that had been done. Along with The Edge and Henry Juszkiewicz, Ezrin was one of the creators of Music Rising, a campaign whose first phase was intended to replace musical instruments lost in the flood.
The documentary, directed by Canadian filmmaker Don Young, provides an overview of that first phase. It ends in September 2006, with many questions left unanswered. The campaign continued, but, tragically, the future of New Orleans remains cloudy. More information about the film is available at the official Music Rising campaign site and at SnagFilms.
Watch Music Rising after the jump!