Skip to content
Vol. 21, No. 3: Music

“Nice to Meet You, Three, Four”: New Orleans Musicians and the Attractions of Community

by Michael Urban

“‘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.

This article appears as an abstract above, the complete article can be accessed in Project Muse
Subscribe today!

One South, a world of stories. Delivered in four print issues a year.