Concert DVDs are a dime a dozen – everybody and their dogs have one. Occasionally, though, you stumble across a concert DVD that makes you think, "Oh, man! I wish I had been there!" From The Big Apple to The Big Easy: The Concert For New Orleans is one of those rare DVDs…
There is something special about New Orleans funk. It's got a slightly more rolling, rollicking beat – neither a reggae lope, nor a Motown chop. It speaks to the soul from a different plane – not just "let the good times roll," but also "mourn the loss of life, but celebrate the living." From The Big Apple to The Big Easy was recorded at a concert given on September 20, 2005, by some of the biggest names in the music industry – from New Orleans and around the world – to benefit the survivors of Hurricane Katrina. Many of the New Orleans artists had just lost everything they owned in the floods [a club belonging to the grandmother of New Orleans soul, Irma Thomas, was underwater at the time of the concert!].
From Dirge/Celebrate, the opening number [by the ReBirth Brass Band] to When The Saints Go Marching In [the finale, begun by the ReBirth Brass Band and The Dirty Dozen Band, but eventually including all the evening's performers], From The Big Apple to The Big Easy is a rollicking good time. Legends like Allen Toussaint and Irma Thomas share the stage with such as Elton John, Simon & Garfunkel, and Cyndi Lauper.
The music is as down home funky as you could ever want. Toussaint's Southern Nights, Thomas' Time Is On My Side, Kermit Ruffins' astounding St. James Infirmary – all are brilliantly done and have the audience dancing up a [you should pardon the expression] storm. When Art Garfunkel says, of Bridge Over Troubled Water, "We've sung this song many, many times – but I've never believed it as much as I do here, tonight," you believe him [and when Aaron Neville joins in for a verse, the goosepimple quotient rises a hundredfold].
Considering that the concert was pulled together faster than FEMA could come up with excuses, From The Big Apple to The Big Easy is a prodigious event. Over sixty artists took part; the concert was taped/shot, rights deals were worked out to allow 100% of the DVD's proceeds to benefit Victims of Hurricane Katrina [for more details, go