I think that I live for music. When I was in high school, I was into alternative music - New Order, The Cure, Echo and the Bunnymen. In college, I worked briefly at WTUL, but I was assigned a 2 AM to 6 AM slot which I couldn't manage to keep up with. It was then that I explored more college alternative like Stan Ridgway, Negativland, and Husker Du. At some point, I was an intern briefly on the Stage and Screen show on WTUL (which I listened to faithfully long after I left Tulane).
I never really "got into" New Orleans music in my formative years. Sure, I heard all the Mardi Gras music on WWL with their Parade Traffic Updates. And I loved the marching bands more than the floats. I hardly ever listened to WWOZ back then. It seemed like Jazz and Blues and Gospel and New Orleans Music were for old people. Whenever I attended a dinner party with older neighbors or friends, they had WWOZ on. It seemed too classy for me. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to be listening to that stuff. I was supposed to be young and hip and full of angst (which I was).
I remember one day being at Lakeside Mall for some reason. Some young African-American men were driving around with loud music blaring. It wasn't rap or hip-hop. It was something entirely different. It was a brass band, and it was awesome. I remember strutting into the mall humming the melody, trying to walk in time. The music just felt right. I didn't know why, but it just did. I found a Rebirth Brass Band CD. I hummed it all the time. I found the Brass Band Jam on WWOZ. I went and saw them at the Canal Bus Stop with my friend Brian. I couldn't wait for Mardi Gras to see all the others - the Dirty Dozen, Olympia, New Birth, and others.
Then somewhere along the way, I stumbled onto Galactic. Coolin' Off used to be in the CD player in my classroom all the time. It seemed like a natural progression. Funky brass band to just plain funk. At the barbecues at my old apartment on Prytania, we used to listen to that CD non-stop.
And I went to JazzFest as many days as possible. I couldn't get enough. It was the perfect New Orleans event in my mind - great music, great food, cold beer, and awesome people. I would go by myself and spend money I didn't have. I would put myself in debt for most of the summer just to get that sound.
Of course, when I moved to New Jersey I found out how much I loved all New Orleans music. At this point in my life, every time I visit New Orleans I spend a hundred or more dollars at the Louisiana Music Factory. I buy CDs of bands I have never heard of. I listen to all the new releases. I wish I would win the lottery so I could increase my collection by buying all the CDs from that place. I have 3000+ songs on my iPod. And it's just not enough. I skip everything that's not New Orleans or funky. I am obsessed. I try to use music sites to help me locate more bands that have New Orleans roots and feel, but the musicians from New Orleans don't have much representation on the big sites.
With this in mind, I wanted to give my review of some of the major sites that stream music that I listen to.
1. launch.com - This is a good website because you can rate music, ask it to never play certain songs again, and search for music to add. I found this to be a good site for "adult alternative" and creating your own station. Unfortunately, there are commercials unless you pay. But it's cheap. Or at least it was last time I signed up.
2. finetune.com - I am listening to this for the first time right now. I am on the Rebirth Brass Band station and Zachary Richard is currently playing Handa Wanda. They did not have Anders Osborne or Theresa Anderson when I searched. Either they are still working on their playlists or they only have nationally released music. However, you can create your own playlists - I like the approach. You get to create your own "MixTape." Neat idea.
3. last.fm - Interesting playlists. Has band radio stations. I haven't listened to this much, but you can see what songs people have been listening to. And you can RSS on your blog or website. Once I get some time and think it through, I may include this here. However, there is no way to pause what you are listening to. If you stop a song, a new one comes up.
4. pandora.com - seems to be on the cutting edge of music. Lots of obscure titles, you can decide whether you like songs or not, and you can skip. You can create 100 stations of your choosing and have them based on a band or song that you like. They claim it's some "music genome project" and songs are categorized based on their tempo, style, melodies, etc. Really complex stuff but really good.
I am looking for a New Orleans based podcast. I haven't found one that features New Orleans music yet, and I can't believe it. Perhaps this is a project for me to work on when I get some time. I know there is a subdudes podcast, and it is excellent. Are there others?
You still can't go wrong with WWOZ.org. You can listen even if you are 1300 miles away or on a different continent. If I rent a car when I go home, I immediately program 90.7 as the first memory channel. At least until I get to the Louisiana Music Factory and buy some CDs.
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