by: Mary Pierce
So much has happened in the Lehigh Valley world of music this month. I want to tell you about my talk with Ms. Danielle Lubené, some great CDs by Martin Sexton, John Oats and Josh Garrett, the upcoming Beatles Showcase at Musikfest Cafe and the All About Bullies CD release party.
But first I want to tell you about my recent trip to Houma Louisiana and how my new friend Tab Benoit and his friends are using music to heal their land.I had never been to Louisiana before. It’s a magical place, with friendly, unassuming people that live a simple life in the Bayou. I’m sure you have heard of “The Bayou”, but do you really know what it is? I didn’t, but I do now.
Tab Benoit, an American blues guitarist born and raised in the wetlands community of Houma Louisiana, has watched the Bayou being eaten alive by salt water. So in 2004 Tab Benoit founded Voice of the Wetlands (VOW) as a volunteer-based non-profit, focused on driving awareness and developing educational outlets/programs about the loss of the wetlands in southern Louisiana. Tab, along with Rueben Williams and a coalition of local artists and business leaders, recognized the urgency to save their homes and the culture of southern Louisiana.
This past weekend I attended the 8th annual VOW Music Festival in Houma, Lousiana. My soul was rejuvenated with some of the best music I have ever heard. Part of what made the music so good was the passion, amazing talent of artists such as Jumpin Johnny Sansone, who sings with the soul of man with a broken heart and the power and conviction of a TV evangelist, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux, whose husky tribal chants conjured up a groove as pervasive and enveloping as the humidity on a midsummer New Or leans night, and Anders Osborne an intensely soulful performer who likes to keep you smoldering a while before he reveals his
inner burning rocker. More than 50 bands and musicians came to share a piece of their heart and soul to drive home a message that burns with importance not just for them but for all Americans.
Mother Nature provided miles and miles of wetlands to act as a buffer between fresh water and salt water, and between land and sea. If the Louisiana wetlands disappear, then category 5 hurricanes like Katrinawill drive further and further inland, leaving astronomical devastation. But it’s
not just this important buffer at stake; the dying wetland is taking with it homes and swallowing up a culture that has thrived in southern Louisiana for hundreds of years.
We all saw first-hand the devastation that Katrina left in her wake. What if similar hurricaines, coming inland,
became a yearly event? Louisiana is the third leading producer of natural gas and the fourth leading producer of crude oil in the country, but it won’t be if the pipelines and refineries are beat to hell by hurricanes every year. Nearly one-third of the domestic seafood
consumed in the contiguous United States comes from Louisiana. Where will it come from if the wetlands disappear and the infrastructure for distribution is gone?
For three days I volunteered and listened to music that moved me in ways I feel ill equipped to accurately describe. The most heart wrenching of all was to hear a hush come over the crowd when Tab
Benoit took the stage. He spoke of the wetlands and the Bayou where is grandparents’ house once stood. With a sad, forlorn look on his face, he told the crowd that the only way to get to his grandparents’ home today was by boat because what’s left of it is sticking up out of the water. Tab is not an overly animated guy on stage, but all the love and passion for saving the Bayou can be heard in his voice when he talks about the land that he loves, the music that comes from it and the people that still live there fighting to keep it
whole. To learn more please visit www.voiceofthewetlands.org.
Danielle Lubené, a native of Allentown, is a provocative songwriter who has been writing music and performing her quirky brand of music for 20 years. Danielle’s quirky and original writing defies a neat category. It can be simultaneously edgy and ethereal. Danielle when describing her style: “There are
times when it can be very loud, hard and very intense and then it can be gentler, ethereal and still very intense. My music is very emotional.” As with many songwriters her music is very personal and she writes from her own life experience but also that of others. “Postcards from the Sea of Me” was released in 2010.
When I am at home meeting the endless needs of my five children (yes I did say five), it is not uncommon for to listen to some really great CD’s and here they are:
“Mississippi Mile” is the most recent CD from John Oats. It is a great collection of music John liked to listen to when he was growing up. He has some great originals peppered in there and the CD has a great, bluesy, southern rock style and sound. Oates is another conscientious musician who believes we can make music for change. Prior to its release this album was available for download at pledgemusic.com. The project is closed to new pledges but click here to check it out anyway, to watch a video of John Oats and to get some interesting information about the album and Love, Hope & Strength!
I interviewed Martin Sexton a while back. No one really knows this because he kind of pissed me off and I decided to exercise my fifth amendment right to NOT say anything about him. His CD got thrown in the “look at this pile of free CD’s I will never listen to” pile and I forgot all about him. Some disobedient teenager who was touching my crap no doubt is responsible for the CD making its way into the CD player in my truck. I was driving up I78 with my CD player on shuffle mode listening to what I thought was a selection of MY favorite music and I stumbled upon a nugget of a song title “Always Got Away” off of Martin Sexton’s CD titled “Sugarcoating”. Turns out there are a lot more nuggets on there. Yea, it’s a MUST HAVE and that’s all I have to say about that.
As I mentioned before I met and heard lots of great musicians and music at VOW. Josh Garrett was one of them. He gave my friend Mark his CD, “String of Problems”, and we listened to it twice on our long drive to New Orleans. It’s fantastic!
Last but certainly not least I want to tell you about two important upcoming event. One is the LVMA Beatles Showcase on Sunday, October 23 from 4:00pm – 8:00pm at Musikfest Cafe. The event features a host of Lehigh Valley bands and musicians performing the timeless music of The Beatles. The lineup includes:
The All Abut Bullies Big and Small CD release party is Saturday, October 22 · 6:00pm – 9:00pm, hosted by East Coast Recording Studio at: The historic Johnsville Centrifuge and Science Museum. This is a family-friendly event that is open to the public and FREE. There will be refreshments, guest speakers, live performances and museum tours. Go to the Facebook event for more information.