Friday, April 5, 2013

Alabama Musicians' Clinic: Music and Medicine

 By Lee Waites

Saturday, April 6th there will be an important meeting at The Carver Theater, starting at 4PM, that all musicians in our area should attend if possible. There has been talk, chatter and downright heated discussion about the pay musicians receive, the lack of health care and benefits, and the idea of a co-op or union for local musicians for years now. BFP Music neither endorses nor opposes anything of this nature as a rule. We attempt to facilitate the communication and act as a forum for these issues. We allow the music community as a whole to approach these issues and make decisions without the infringement of our biases entering the mix.  Some musicians lean one way on these issues, others lean the other way, as in our society as a whole.

Whether you feel strongly about how these goals are achieved, it is imperative that we, as a community, concern ourselves with the well being of one another and contribute to the manner in which society serves its citizens and is served by us. This is how civilization works. This is how we, as Americans and Alabamians, and as part of the music community, can help manage our environment and our culture. I don't often preach. I don't often interfere. I try to be impartial to most issues and do, what I consider is my job, spreading the word about shows, events, music news and other related items of interest. But I feel so strongly about this particular issue, given the medical community and opportunities we have in our area, and the obvious need of many in our music community, that I implore you to share this information with any musician you know in the state of Alabama. 

Below you will find a letter from Christophe Jackson, the co-director of Save New Orleans Sound Initiative. Give it a read. Share the attached event and information and try to attend this event. 

(Click here for the Music and Medicine forum event link)    

My name is Christophe Jackson and I am the co-director of the Save New Orleans Sound Initiative, a program under NOMC and co-chair of research development for PAMA to conduct interdisciplinary Performance Arts medicine Through Save Sounds I am leading a national campaign to conduct hearing and voice research, promote safe sound practices, and advocate for the prevention of hearing loss in New Orleans musicians. The website link: ( ) 

The New Orleans Musicians' Clinic (NOMC), founded in 1998, provides comprehensive medical services to 3000+ musicians and tradition bearers. After Katrina, many of the hearing services to their patients were lost. By partnering with academic centers outside of New Orleans such as Wichita State, University of Alabama at Birmingham, University of Sydney in Australia, and Harvard I aim to further interdisciplinary research as well as coordinate broader partnerships crucial to insure the survival and well being of musicians.

The New Orleans Musicians' Clinic (NOMC..check them out at  and its parent organization the New Orleans Musicians Assistance Foundation, which will this year celebrate its 15th birthday. (I'll be guesting at the Palm Court during Jazz Fest to help with the celebration on May 1).  JoJo Hermann of Widespread Panic and I are two of the "non-New Orleans Musician Spokespersons" for the Clinic, and I know that Jo is as proud as I am to be so.

The exciting news is that recently,  NOMC has been in talks with the The Alabama State Council On the Arts to look at ways to replicate amusician/artist-services-based clinic network in Alabama. Two of the locations being talked about are Florence and Birmingham.

Here's where you all come in, hopefully.... The Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame will host, on Saturday April 6, a kickoff event that will include a performers' showcase. NOMC has already arranged for some New Orleans musicians, like Chief Albert Lambreaux, Big Chief of the Guardians Of The Flame) to participate.  The idea is to light a fire in the hearts of the powers that be at the State Council On The Arts via connection of the two powerful artistic worlds on April 6--New Orleans and Muscle Shoals/Birmingham, and in so doing, to engage the community in the idea that the Clinic model can work in Alabama for the greater good of it musicians, singers, and artists.

The NOLA clinic serves so many in the Big Easy...musicians from the Preservation Hall Jazz Band;  Mac Rebennack/Dr John (Mac is a outspoken advocate for the Clinic); and members of many of the prominent NOLA bands   The same thing could happen in Alabama!!  Think of how this could help someone line our dear friend Scott Boyer of The Decoys, for instance, as he recuperates from his recent life-threatening illness. We can do it!

Thank you for spreading the word,



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