Shaken but Not Broken
Keeping time. Eventually, the work ethic I'd seen in my father and my great-uncle Pomp kicked in. At 12, I started practicing and began to work almost immediately. For the next four years I played on a regular basis with a funk band, a modern jazz band, a lounge band, three symphony orchestras, a brass quartet, a church band, a big band, and a marching band. Each musical idiom had its own etiquette. Symphonies started five to 10 minutes late in New Orleans. The lounge band was 20 minutes late. The street parade might be an hour late or more. So I learned to master the art of timing in more ways than one. And I learned that my father was right--don't play for fanfare. Just play.
And so I blew my horn. I played everything from "Tear the Roof Off the Sucker" to "Just a Closer Walk With Thee" to Gustav Holst's Second Suite for Military Band in F to "Shake It but Don't Break It." And yes, "How Deep Is Your Love." I hated that song at first, but the girls loved it so much they made it my favorite.
When I walk around the city today, I'm reminded of all those songs, and of all the great people I've known in New Orleans. And I do feel a little steadier. Pomp used to tell me, "The people may be gone, but these stones I'm cutting, they're going to be here forever." I like to think the stones of New Orleans will always survive--and so will the people. We will be back. Working hard. And with fanfare.