After The Flood
On Monday August 29, 2005 , Hurricane Katrina made landfall just east of New Orleans. Residents were thrilled to avoid the direct hit that many had predicted. Then the levees failed and the water came anyway. Lots of it. All told, 80 percent of the city was inundated and hundreds of thousands of people scrambled to higher ground.

Too many died. Most of the displaced made their way back to the city. Others never returned.

The story of New Orleans in the aftermath of calamity has been one of hope and fear, of uncertain and uneven progress, of countless individual struggles and competing visions for the future. It may be too soon to claim that the city has recovered from Katrina and the flood. But, the people of New Orleans have shown extraordinary resilience.

No doubt, the city’s cultural standard-bearers helped remind residents why they were mucking out their houses, cleaning out their refrigerators and rebuilding. The goal was to resume life in a city unlike any other on the planet — where family and food and music and the joys of the day-to-day matter. Ironically, the city’s cultural standard-bearers were facing the very same challenges as the people for whom they served as inspiration. They had lost their possessions too, or their health, or their way back home.

This week on Music Inside Out some of our best-loved musicians and cultural advocates discuss their experiences during the storm and after the flood. They tell us not only what recovery looks and smells like — but what it sounds like too.


Fats Domino 1973 in der Musikhalle Hamburg by Heinrich Klaffs
It’s impossible to overstate the stature of Fats Domino among New Orleans musicians, or, for that matter, his influence on American popular music. Fats is one of the city’s most beloved cultural ambassadors and a founding father of rock ’n roll. Thus, the photo that surfaced of Domino being rescued from his home in the Lower 9th Ward home would, for many, be a defining image of the catastrophe.

Haydee Lafaye Ellis is a longtime friend of the Domino family. She tells us about Fats’ decision to weather the storm and his new life across the Mississippi River, in Harvey, LA.

To hear our full show with Fats Domino, please visit this page.

“The story that we were trying to tell with Treme… is an argument for what the American city can achieve in terms of creating community in society”
With a profound sense of empathy and an eye for beauty in the lives of everyday people, journalist, writer and television producer David Simon has emerged as one of the principle storytellers of the 21st Century American city.

Prior to the storm, Simon had earned nearly universal acclaim for his HBO series The Wire, set in Baltimore. When he turned his vision to New Orleans in the months following Katrina, he says he found a “dystopian landscape and maddening political dysfunction. ” But he also found a sense of community and love of culture in New Orleans unlike any other American city. Simon talks about the goals and challenges of producing the HBO series, Treme.

To hear our full show with David Simon, please visit this page.


Alex McMurray
There aren’t many artists as wildly creative as singer-songwriter and guitarist Alex McMurray. He’s taken on World War II-style blues, classic rock, sea chanties, roots reggae and rocksteady.
There’s not much he can’t or won’t do. At the time of Katrina, McMurray had left New Orleans and was living in New York City. But he soon found himself drawn to the chaos. McMurray talks with Music Inside Out about moving back to New Orleans and the creative inspiration he found in the city’s post-Katrina landscape.

To hear our full show with Alex McMurray, please visit this page.


Allen Toussaint at the Melkweg Amsterdam By Jasper Uhlenbusch


Sometimes called “Mr. Music” in New Orleans, the legendary writer, producer, composer, arranger, and pianist Allen Toussaint has spent more than half a century creating New Orleans R&B and funk. Toussaint’s work is best known through the careers of others — artists such as Lee Dorsey (“Working in a Coal Mine”), Benny Spellman (“Fortune Teller”), Irma Thomas ( It’s Raining”) and Ernie K-Doe (“Mother-in-Law”). Al Hirt and Glen Campbell posted top-charting hits written by Toussaint. And he’s produced scores of other artists, including Dr. John and Labelle.

On Music Inside Out, Toussaint calls Hurricane Katrina “a booking agent” that forced him from behind the scenes to the stage. In the years since the storm, he’s released three Grammy-nominated albums and discovered a love of performing.

To hear our full show with Allen Toussaint, please visit this page.


“Anywhere I go and stay any period of time, I become a part of the turf”
Jazz clarinetist and saxophone player Charlie Gabriel has a deeply-rooted musical heritage in New Orleans, reaching back four generations and more than 150 years. At the peak of the Great Migration in 1946, a 14-year-old Charlie “G” moved to Detroit with his father. Now, after decades of touring the world with his own band — as well as with such legends as Lionel Hampton and Aretha Franklin — Charlie Gabriel has returned home to join the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Welcome home, Charlie G! We missed you!

To hear our full show with Charlie Gabriel, please visit this page.


“I’m no different than the everyday working person, I just happen to have another talent…”
Soul Queen of New Orleans Irma Thomas has a voice as powerful and recognizable as just about any on the planet. In 1960, she landed her first record deal after being fired for singing too much as a waitress. She’s been unstoppable ever since — recording songs like, “It’s Raining,” “Ruler of My Heart” and “Time is On My Side,” (later recorded by the Rolling Stones). She also wrote or co-wrote a number of songs on her subsequent albums, including, “I Wish Someone Would Care,” and, more recently, “These Honey Do’s.”

When Thomas and her husband lost their home in eastern New Orleans to the floodwaters, they were forced to seek refuge with family in nearby Gonzales, La. She later recorded the Grammy-winning album, “After the Rain. ”

To hear our full show with Irma Thomas, please visit this page.


“Every note you do with an icon of history is, by definition, history”
Piano player and band leader David Torkanowsky has worked often with Irma Thomas and they are perhaps at their most joyous performing holiday carols each year on WWOZ. Torkanowsky, whose credits include work with Dianne Reeves, Maria Muldaur and Astral Project, is equally comfortable playing jazz, boogie woogie, Cajun music and rhythm and blues. He accompanied Thomas on “After the Rain’s” most heartfelt selection. Accompaniment, he says, is mostly about listening.

To hear our full show with David Torkanowsky, please visit this page.


Franz Schubert — Moment Musicale in F-Minor, Op. 94 No. 3

Faina Lushtak
CD: La Poesie de la Vie

Love You Until the Day I Die

Fats Domino

The Treme Song

John Boutte
CD: Treme, Music From the
Original HBO Series, Season 1

You’ve Got to Be Crazy to Live in This Town

Alex McMurray
CD: how To Be a Cannonball

My Man, Take Me Back to the War

Alex McMurray
CD: How To Be a Cannonball

Blue Drag

Allen Toussaint
CD: The Bright Mississippi

Yellow Moon

Preservation Hall Jazz Band
CD: That’s It!

I Think I Love You

Preservation Hall Jazz Band
CD: That’s It!


Charlie Gabriel

We Made It Through That Water

Free Agents Brass Band
CD: Treme, Music From the
Original HBO Series, Season 1

Louisiana 1927

John Boutte
2006 New Orleans Jazz Festival (Live)

Shelter in the Rain

Irma Thomas
CD: After the Rain