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a few small-run releases in the ’60s, the music education programs up and runband returned to recording in 1977 with ning. In the tradition of hospitality, artNew Orleans, Vol. 1, and has maintained ists as diverse as Pete Seeger and Angelique a consistent record-bin presence ever Kidjo were invited down to record; that since, most notably on Columbia Master- “vocal-like warmth” is doubled throughworks, and in recent years on the Hall’s out these wonderful collaborations with own label. In the liner notes to Vol. 1, many distinct singers. Preservation Hall seats only 50, and William Russell wrote that New Orleans Share with God’s people who are jazz is “not so much a kind of music as still lacks running water and air condiin need. Practice hospitality. a style,” a way of “playing a melody with tioning, just as it did when built in 1750. Romans 12:13 a beat.’” And that melody is never The March 4, 2010, issue of Rolling The Evangelical Lutheran Church in obscured, “but is sung by the various Stone reports that when Steve Earle waitAmerica (ELCA) Youth Gathering met instruments with a beautiful vocal-like ed until after 3 a.m. to record “T’ain’t in New Orleans last year to help rebuild warmth.” Such instrumentalists “strive Nobody’s Business” with the band, even the city, and it is breaking tradition by to help each other rather than grab the then, the place was so humid “that it took planning to return to the same city for spotlight …working together to pro- [him] half an hour to tune his guitar.” The hospitality must have been flowits next gathering in 2012. For the birth- duce the loose, relaxed beat.” That beat place of jazz is also a cradle for Christian is often found propelling what we would ing as others — including bluegrass and service. “I don’t think that we have call gospel music, such songs as “Over country heroes Del McCoury and Merle learned all we can from New Orleans in Gloryland,” “Amen,” and, of course, Haggard, gospel legends the Blind Boys yet,” says Youth Gathering Director “When the Saints Go Marching In.” of Alabama, roots-rock bandleaders Heidi Hagstrom. “New Orleans has so “Working together harmoniously,” writes Brandi Carlile, Jason Isbell, and Cory much to teach us about practicing God’s Russell,“can generate a feeling of power.” Chisel, singer-songwriter Ani DiFranco, Such power must have been evident all-around sideman Buddy Miller, allhospitality.” God’s hospitality involves more than when over 37,000 teenagers provided around weirdo Tom Waits, and even the a “friendly and solicitous attitude toward post-Katrina reconstruction muscle at disembodied voice of Louis Armstrong — dropped by to share music and gumbo guests,” as the dictionary defines it, though the last ELCA Youth Gathering. While the PHJB continued to tour, with the current eight-member configNew Orleans is certainly known for that. In his letter to Titus, the apostle Paul the hurricane kept the Hall closed well uration of the PHJB. Nineteen tracks of mostly traditional reminds him that one entrusted with into 2006. So the guest-star sessions that God’s work must not be overbearing, make up Preservation, a 2010 benefit material made it onto Preservation, with quick-tempered, or given to drunken- album, are meant to keep the club and its an overflow of six more making up a ness, violence, or dishonest gain.“Rather he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.” Loving what is good, practicing selfcontrol, encouraging others — that’s the kind of hospitality young and old can find in the work of one of New Orleans’ most active proponents of “good time music to make the people happy,” the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Named for the famed music hall in New Orleans’ French Quarter, the PHJB A sampling of Preservation jam session artists. has been touring for over 25 years. After PRISM 2 0 1 0


Mary Ashley Johnson

Hospitality with a Beat

bonus disc. Jim James of My Morning Jacket describes the hall as full of “so much energy and power and ghosts,” and his rendition of “Louisiana Fairytale” is meant to evoke some of those ghosts with its efforts at sounding like a scratchy 78. But others sing them straight, and that’s where good-time music to make the people happy—and whistle along with —can be found. When Pete’s grandson Tao Rodriguez-Seeger leads the group through a jaunty “We Shall Overcome,”

I imagine this to be among the songs the Lutheran kids will sing when they meet in 2012. In the meantime, this and other examples of musicians striving to help each other rather than grab the spotlight are available to us on Preservation, because we have yet to learn all we can from New Orleans.

it is a welcome reminder that the song was never intended to be delivered only in solemn tones. “God is on our side” is J.D. Buhl is a music buff who teaches 8th to be sung with an exclamation point, grade at the Casady School in Oklahoma not an ellipsis. City, Ok.

1979 through major litigation, lobbying, and reform partnerships with policymakers. She does consulting on criminal justice for the Annie E. Casey Foundation, think tanks, and governments and is the author of the Healing Communities materials.

Justice, Mercy, and the Land of the Second Chance continued from page 20.

It wasn’t until the nation’s prison population passed the 2 million mark (over 7 million when you include those on parole or probation), until we started seeing over 700,000 people coming home unprepared from prison a year, until we noticed that almost a quarter of the US population has a criminal record, and until the voices speaking of redemption began to be heard that Winthrop’s other rule began to get some attention: mercy. Just as Americans recoiled at the sadistic treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib because it was so at odds with our values, many are recoiling over the harsh penalties imposed for drug offenses and myriad other crimes and the ceaseless punishment we inflict on people coming out of prison. Where, Americans are asking, is the mercy? How can we be a beacon of liberty to the world if we show no mercy, whether it be toward others or toward our own? Given the bipartisanship that flourished around the SCA, we might also ask: Can we not apply that lesson in cooperation to other issues and in other arenas? How can we be a beacon of liberty to the world if we expend so much political will battling so-called enemies on the other side of the aisle rather than debating constructive solutions to our shared problems, so many of which require measures of both justice and mercy? Enactment of the Second Chance Act delivered on the promise of justice and mercy, not only to the prisoner but also among the bill’s supporters. It was a dramatic change from typical lawmaking. May this be the model for realizing the other injunctions in Matthew 25. N

(Editor’s note: Due to space limitations, the endnotes for this feature have been posted at

Creating a Healing Community continued from page 18.

The Healing Communities model has gone viral. Since its launch at Casey-supported test sites in Detroit, Houston, and Richmond, it has now spread to seminaries, denominations, churches, and faith-based organizations across the country. Churches don’t need a grant to become a healing community, and all can benefit from the free Healing Communities curriculum. The Second Chance Act grants are highly competitive. Last year, there were 119 applications from state and local governments, yet there were funds to award grants totaling less than $8 million for the 15 successful applicants. There were 507 applications for adult mentoring grants, yet only $10 million was awarded and divided among 36 grantees. But changes in federal law, such as the Second Chance Act, can foster new attitudes along with new programs. Programs focus on changing outcomes; Healing Communities focuses on transforming hearts and minds. Both are essential to undo the damage wrought by crime and incarceration. See Linda Mills bio above.

Linda Mills, an attorney in Chicago, has focused on policy reform since

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Hospitality with a Beat  

Music Notes July 2010

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