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In support of love and culture, the N.O. community comes together

28th August 2017   ·   0 Comments

By Geraldine Wyckoff
Contributing Writer

Love In – Rock Against Racism

“We’re putting hate on notice,” declares keyboardist Claude Bryant of those involved in Monday night’s (August 28) Love In – Rock Against Racism concert. Along with Jimmy Anselmo, Bryant, who will be leading his band Claude Bryant & the All-Stars and is among the many other musicians participating in the show, organized the event that will benefit the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“After seeing what occurred in Charlottesville – I cry when I think about that young woman, Heather, who was killed – I was just outraged and I had to do something,” says Anselmo who is best known as the former owner of the now-defunct, uptown music club, Jimmy’s. “Because of my affiliation with the Southern Poverty Law Center that has been exposing hate since the ‘70s, those are the people who I went to.”



Just five months ago, Anselmo and Bryant spearheaded a Rock Against Racism event. Because of the extreme racial and political climate exasperated by the apparently obtuse president, they both thought it would be best to put on another event that focuses on the unity of the community sooner than later.

“People need to express themselves to show that we have to fight hate with love,” says an adamant Bryant. “We both felt that life is not really like that and the people – the majority of the people – aren’t really like that. We had to do something to prove that.”

Love In – Rock Against Racism brings together a diversity of like-minded New Orleans musicians who were quick to answer the call. The Hot 8 Brass Band will kick things off at 6 p.m. on the street in front of The Willow, 8200 Willow Street, the former home of Jimmy’s legendary music club. Bryant & the All-Stars will act as the backup band for the always ready to reach out vocalists Deacon John and Cyril Neville who will wrap up the evening taking the stage around 10 p.m. or 11 p.m. With Bryant aboard, there will plenty of reggae music as he’ll also be behind the keyboards with The Revelers that will bring on some of reggae’s socially conscious, laid-back, rock steady grooves.

“Reggae is the people’s music,” says Bryant, who many people will remember as a member of the popular group Irie Vibrations. “Reggae is a healing music. It promotes peace and love. That’s the reason I play it.”

Drummer Russell Batiste is bringing in his own band that he’s eager to put in front of audiences and includes vocalist Vegas Cole. He’ll hit about 9 p.m. with a style he calls strictly “Russ music,” that stands for “real undercover soul sound.” Listen for his special version of John Lennon’s “Imagine.” “That’s a good song to do at any rally for people who want to live righteous out here,” he offers. “They (the organizers)want to make a statement and I’m down with it, I’m down for the cause.”

A variety of other fine musicians will be filtering in through the night including guitarist/vocalist Marc Stone and vocalist Sam Price who has just released an anti-racism video with his group, the True Believers called “We Believe.”

“We can start talking about positive things about love and cooperation instead of statues and fighting and Nazis and supremacists,” Bryant avers. “Give more attention to love — that’s what we’re trying to do.

The cover charge for the event is a low $5. “It’s not really about the money,” Bryant explains. “We’re looking for a bigger effect – raising awareness that people have to fight hate with love.”

“There are so many great New Orleans musicians who are always fighting hate and racism so it all came together,” Anselmo says with great respect. “There was no hesitation.”

The Backyard Bash – Benefit for the Backstreet Cultural Museum

The Backstreet Cultural Museum, a jewel on an institution and a “Powerhouse of Knowledge,” presents The Backyard Bash on Friday, September 1 at another jewel of a spot, Kermit’s Mother-In-Law Lounge. Trumpeter, vocalist and proprietor Kermit Ruffins will perform at the event that benefits the museum and sounds like it has all the makings of a down home party. The Mother-In-Law Lounge, located at 1500 North Claiborne Avenue, opens its doors for the party early at 6:30 p.m. and there’s always plenty of parking under the N. Claiborne overpass just across the street. Refreshments, some of which have been donated by Whole Foods, are included in the cover charge that benefits the museum. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. The proceeds from raffle tickets will also go towards support of the museum with the drawing to be held at 9 p.m. the night of the show.

The Backstreet Cultural Museum, 1116 Henriette Delille Street, specializes in exhibits and information on jazz funerals, social aid and pleasure clubs and Mardi Gras Indians. Appropriately located in a former funeral home in the Tremé neighborhood, it stands as a very special place in the community, New Orleans and the world. The museum is curated with love and deep understanding for this city’s Black street traditions by Sylvester Francis.

For more information, call (504) 657-6700.

This article originally published in the August 28, 2017 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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