by Owen McNally
CHRISTMAS IN NEW ORLEANS
The Dukes of Dixieland
Hurricane Katrina nearly wiped out this holiday release, which marks the first Christmas album by the New Orleans-based Dukes of Dixieland.
Just four days before katrina, the tapes were Fed Exed from New Orleans to Los Angeles for mastering — lucky timing that may have saved them from being swept away.
Paradoxically, the tapes fared far better than the Dukes themselves. Drummer Richard Taylor lost his home to Katrina. And all six band members became evacuees, scattered across the United States from Sarasota, Fla., to Seattle.
Because these tracks were recorded pre-Katrina, they light up like a Christmas tree with bright, festive spirit.
the band uses holiday fare like "O Tannenbaum" and "Winter Wonderland" as jam session goodies seasoned with a Creole flavor. It trumpets hosannas to the glories of the Big Easy on such pieces as "Christmas Time in New Orleans," "Holiday Time in New Orleans," and "Second Line Santas."
Fellow New Orleanians the Pfister Sisters, bluesman Luther Kent, and Moses Hogan's Gospel Choir join the Dukes in their jubilant celebration of Christmas in the Crescent City.
Since returning, the Dukes, who are old hands at riverboat rambling, have toured on the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, raising money for the Bush-Clinton Katrina Relief Fund.
As a sign of devotion to its mother city, the combo has embraced a new working name, New Orleans' Own Dukes of Dixieland. It lives by a new, passionate slogan: "We will rebuild!"