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Tom Long

Screaming is an under appreciated art form. For one thing, it’s hard to do. Try it. Go lock yourself in the bathroom, close the windows, turn on the fan and start yelling.

It’s not easy to let it all out without feeling self conscious. It takes confidence to be naked and raw. Or, as is the case with many a writer, liquid courage gets the job done.

Sam Jasper

Cross-posted at New Orleans Slate

Dear Mayor Landrieu,

I voted for you. Twice. I felt then and feel now that you really want to work with the community. I felt then and feel now that having grown up here in New Orleans, you have a deep connection to the City, its people and its culture in all the various forms that culture presents. That said, I am greatly concerned, as are many others, that some of the cultural heritage unique to this City will soon be obliterated by bad laws, pressure from monied property owners (both natives and newcomers), and the pursuit of money for the City coffers which admittedly could use some shoring up.

Unfortunately it often looks as though that shoring up is being done on the backs of the regular working folks via traffic cam tickets that are a hardship on just about everyone trying to make it month to month, crazy new taxicab regulations that are a hardship on many career cab drivers, unwieldy and seemingly serendipitous permitting requirements on club owners who are the small business owner/job creators we hear about every day, more permits on the smallest of entrepreneurial business owners–the vendors at Second Lines, and on the culture bearers themselves—the musicians and artists who create the culture that draws visitors to our City every year from all over the world. Lately we’ve heard words like noise, crackdown, permit, and ordinance used to intimidate bands off of street corners, to cause clubs to stop live music for fear of total shut downs, and as you know, those words have been a sometimes unspoken threat to parades and Indians for a long time.

Gary Mays

Lyrically, and spiritually at least they’ve been trying to find the new ‘Bob Dylan’ since, well, since the former Robert Zimmerman from Hibbing, Minn., broke through the din of the1960s folk scene in Greenwhich Village to tell the world that “A Hard Rain’s A Gonna Fall.” Yet while many singer-songwriters over the decade have tried the title on for size — voice of a generation — few have passed the test of time, digital music, and a wandering cultural attention span.

Perhaps listeners, ears accustomed to auto-tune inanity, could care less about lyrics anymore. Dylan’s new record, Tempest, came out with much marketing fanfare last week, and from the one track I’ve heard, it’s pretty good. Yet lyrically, Dylan’s best days seem behind him — and that’s OK, for even an aging, cynical and wealthy Bob Dylan is better than most of the crap out there.

But in the view of this writer, the lyrical claim to fame these days belongs to the obscure, the twisted, the relatively unknown and the deeply personal. And that’s why, while I’ll always be a Dylan fan, singer-songwriter John Darnielle is my new life coach.

Darnielle, front man for the intrepid band, ‘The Mountain Goats’ writes with demonic power and urgency, and like Dylan at his earliest and angriest, he senses the cultural zetgeist and tears at it with pen and rapid fire downstroke on his acoustic. The chorus to the first Darnielle song that grabbed me went like this:

“And Sonny Liston rubbed some tiger balm into his glove, some things you do for money and some you do for love, love, love.” (Love, Love, Love, The Sunset Tree)

Next song I heard: “St. Joseph’s baby Aspirin , Bartles and James; and you, or your memory…” (‘You or Your Memory’, The Sunset Tree)

Gary Mays

I missed it. I’m an area resident and one of many fans of the English band Mumford & Sons who were clamoring for tickets to the “Gentlemen of the Road Fest” held Aug. 18, in an unlikely locale: Dixon, Ill, pop. 15,773, home to one of the state’s biggest medium security prisons and birthplace of President Ronald Reagan.

With a towering statue of Chief Black Hawk overlooking the city and river, it’s also the spot where, in 1832, President Abraham Lincoln met up with the Illinois militia at Fort Dixon to fight in the bloody Black Hawk War.

But M&S— whose “gentleman” tour included Gogol Bordello, Dawes, Abigail Washburn and other acts— had no say on this particular tour date. Dixon officials entered and won a National Trust Main Street contest to host a “major band tour of historic towns.” (No doubt it was a welcome bit of  news amid a bad municipal run: the town’s Comptroller/Treasurer, Rita Crundwell, was indicted by the feds in April for allegedly embezzling $30 to 53 million from town coffers.)

Still, they threw out the welcome mat and let the music play for Dixon, which celebrated the event with storefront murals to greet the 15,000 fans who showed and nearly doubled the town’s population.

The Grammy-winning Mumford & Sons, whose newest record, Babel, is set for release next month, are an unplugged musical and lyrical tour de force, employing acoustic instruments, mostly, to deliver body blows of resonant sound, introspection and prescient honesty.

They rose to prominence from the “west London Folk Scene” that also cultivated such like-minded bands as “Noah and the Whale.” But when M&S played with Bob Dylan at the 2010 Grammys, the world too was finally able to make the musical connection, as that first network appearance pushed sales of its debut “Sigh No More” and thrusted M&S to major global headliner.