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New Atlantis: Musicians Battle for the Survival of New Orleans Hardcover – June 6, 2011
The Amazon Book Review
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"New Atlantis is a fast-moving hybrid of richly detailed journalism
and compelling partisan memoir." -David Fricke, Rolling Stone
"A solid, rewarding book." -Kirkus Reviews
"An all-inclusive and engrossing study of New Orleans music and life in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Highly recommended." -Library Journal
"This intimate portrait of a city that lost so much yet still has so much to offer captures the resiliency of its inhabitants and their stubborn determination to never give up." -Booklist
"Intimate, intelligent and passionate...Swenson's concern for the future of the music culture is as personal as it is journalistic - probably more so - and reading him, you can't help but care, too." -The Times-Picayune
"The eloquent central narrative beautifully evokes New Orleans, alongside interviews with those who, like the Neville Brothers and Big Chief Monk Boudreaux, lived through the deluge, scraped out the sludge and faced down the National Guard." -Financial Times
"An excellent and well-written book...A great companion read if you're a fan of the HBO series, Treme." -The Nation
"Swenson nimbly deals with an increase in violence and turf wars, one of the consequences of the town losing most of its inhabitants, while also telling heartrending stories of the irreplaceable memorabilia that was destroyed...anyone who loves New Orleans will find New Atlantis an engaging read." -The Austin Chronicle
"John Swenson's moving book records the story of a city that acted on singer Randy Newman's famous plea, 'Don't let them wash us away.'" - The Independent
"Excellent...a tribute to the thousands of indefatigable volunteers who pitched in after the flood to gut and salvage ruined homes." -- The Times Literary Supplement
About the Author
John Swenson has been a syndicated columnist for more than 20 years at UPI and Reuters. His account of musicians returning to New Orleans after Katrina, "The Bands Played On," appeared in Da Capo's Best Music Writing 2007; his "Every Accordionist a King" won the 2008 Best Entertainment Feature award from the Press Club of New Orleans. Swenson has been an editor for Crawdaddy, Rolling Stone, Circus, Rock World, Offbeat, and other publications. He is the author of The Rolling Stone Jazz and Blues Album Guide (Random House, 1999); Stevie Wonder (Plexus, 1989); and Bill Haley: The Daddy of Rock and Roll (Stein and Day, 1985).
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It isn't an easy recovery. For some who came back, there were others who never would, or would pass away not long after returning. And the early returnees came to a city occupied by the National Guard and terrible street violence with musicians and tourists not being safe from gang related violence. But there are James and Troy (Trombone Shorty) Andrews returning to New Orleans 17 days after Katrina to play at Jackson Square at ceremonies associated with the President's speech and having to deal with what they saw.
Musicians slowly came back and started playing but as Swenson observes they did more than simply make music. Craig Klein of Bonerama started the Arabi Wrecking Crew to help gut ruined houses and then partnered with a group building a musicians community. And then there is music such as that by harmonica player Andy Forest with a recording "Real Story," while Coco Robichaux started playing at Molly's when the lights went back on there, and a group including Walter 'Wolfman' Washington played a concert at the Maple Leaf that the National Guard closed down at 8:00PM after curfew, and James Andrews playing a concert at the Ogden Museum, resuming its concert series that Katrina had interrupted.
Taking us through Halloween and Mardi Gras, Swenson introduces us to a variety of individuals (some famous nationally and others local) such as DJ Davis, the real person who served as the basis for the character on the HBO show "Tremé," Paul Sanchez, Papa John Gros, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux, Dr. John, Dr. Michael White (the great clarinetist who lost countless and irreplaceable musical artifacts in the federal flood), Theresa Anderson, John Boutté, Evan Christopher, Susan Cowsill, Glen David Andrews, the Radiators and others.
There was a protest against the street violence that the musicians were a major force behind as well as important efforts to revive neighborhoods and communities. He discusses a variety of recordings as well as performances and the unique relationship between the musicians and their fans from not just the city but around the world. Swenson's draws the reader into the rich tapestry of people and events that he so compellingly tells us about. It is a superb and import book of a story that still is unfinished and is recommended to anybody who loves New Orleans and its music.
I purchased this on my Kindle but also received a review copy as part of the Vine program.
This book, New Atlantis, by John Swenson tells the story of the music and its role in saving New Orleans from the aftermath of the storm. It is told as only one thoroughly familiar with the cultures and under-cultures of New Orleans can tell it. Whatever your feelings about the city of New Orleans and its citizens, this book will inspire you to reconsider it again, and it will have you saying, as I do, "There is something about this city, and it is the music and musicians."
New Atlantis: Musicians Battle for the Survival of New Orleans
You can tell that the author is very knowledgable about New Orleans and her music. I liked the photographs and they helped some. I also thought that the writing was good. My main detraction, and what keeps this from being a 3-4 star read is the vast wealth of names. Had it followed a smaller group of people, I would have been drawn more into it.
Like I mentioned in the beginning, if you are knowledgeable about NO music, you will have a different experience than I did.
Most recent customer reviews
New Orleans was in bad shape and our federal government did not give a dam.Read more