"'I think that everyone who lives here and plays music feels honored in some way, you know. It's a real privilege to be able to live in New Orleans and play music.'"
The term “New Orleans musician” refers to a highly valorized, historically rooted identity shared by a select community in the Crescent City. However, it concerns more than a place, a celebrated past, or even the style of music performed. Above all, a New Orleans musician is someone recognized by others as such because he or she engages in specific practices and abides by certain norms of the city’s musical community. This much I have learned from the musicians themselves—and from knowledgeable others, such as music journalists and audio recording engineers—over the course of some fifty-one open-ended interviews conducted with them between October and December 2013. I never used the term in my questions, but they frequently introduced it in their responses, tossing it around as a matter of fact not much different from, say, the chairs on which we sat.