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How the Web Can Make a Difference for New Orleans Musicians

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Here is a great example of the social web being used for absolute societal good. The New Orleans Musician's Relief Fund (NOMRF), a grass-roots charity founded in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, uses social media and other web technologies to reach out to music fans and garner support for displaced New Orleans musicians and their families. Katrina devastated the entertainment industry in the city, which is renowned for its legendary jazz traditions, and many musicians are just starting to gain footholds once again. Now, however, the worst ecological disaster in history is once again imperiling their way of life by threatening the fragile but recuperating New Orleans economy. NOMRF is using the tools of the social web, from blogging to Twitter to podcasts, to try to aid the musicians of New Orleans and save the music that is so integral to the cultural makeup of the city.

Web Makes the Difference for New Orleans Musicians

"It's almost impossible to describe how important the Web was for getting the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund off the ground," said co-founder Karen Dalton-Beninato. Karen and her husband Jeff, who grew up playing music in the Ninth Ward, used Web technologies and social media to reach out to music fans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Now, almost exactly five years later, another crisis is hitting the shore, the Gulf oil spill.

"With the current state of the economy, we get more used instrument donations than anything else these days, but it's been an amazing ride. New Orleans is going to have a rough summer with Gulf Coast tourism dropping already after the oil spill. Hopefully people will keep the city and its music in their hearts."

Karen and Jeff started the fund in a Chicago FEMA room when it became clear that many musicians and others wouldn't be able to return to New Orleans for weeks if not months. Jeff, who grew up playing in the Ninth Ward and was a member of the 80s pop band the dBs, as well as playing with roots and jazz outfits, turned to the Internet. He and Karen put together a Website with an online donation function.

And now what promises to become the single largest ecological catastrophe in the nation's history, the Gulf oil spill, is bearing down on the city. The travelers and the money they bring are starting to dry up again. The resource economy, fishing, shrimping and crabbing, that all funnels into the city, is faltering. The need to plug in to this newest of technologies - the Web - to save the oldest - music - is pressing, again. There is some truth to the notion that this technology we cover levels and democratizes. NOMRF is using it to make the process of helping the men and women who provide the soundtrack to your hopes and dreams more egalitarian and more direct.

via Web Makes the Difference for New Orleans Musicians. Posted by Curt Hopkins.