Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Bonnie Bramlett on Delaney's death

NASHVILLE, TN – Singer/songwriter Bonnie Bramlett has issued the following statement about the passing of her former husband and musical partner, Delaney Bramlett, who died at age 69 on December 27 in Los Angeles as a result of complications from gall-bladder surgery:

“I’m so going to miss him; as Delaney wrote in his song: ‘It’s hard to say good-bye.’
All I can hope is that I’ll see him in the light.”

Bonnie met Delaney after moving to Los Angeles in 1967, and they married seven days later. They formed Delaney & Bonnie & Friends, the first real rock ‘n’ roll traveling road show, whose players at one time or another included George Harrison, John Lennon, Eric Clapton, Duane Allman, Gram Parsons, Leon Russell, Dave Mason and Rita Coolidge, among many others. The duo released five critically-acclaimed albums, beginning with Home on Stax Records, before recording for other labels. Hit singles such as “Soul Shake,” “Never Ending Song of Love” and “Only You Know & I Know” kept them on the charts. During this time, Bonnie also co-wrote with Leon Russell the Grammy-nominated song, “Superstar,” which was released as a Delaney and Bonnie single by Atlantic Records in 1969 and later a major hit for The Carpenters. The duo broke up personally and professionally in 1973.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Katrina broke Bush

Even as we all witnessed the horror of the human tragedy that accompanied the destruction of New Orleans and the government's abandonment of the people who lived in that doomed city there was a sense that this terrible week was the moment when the evil that George Bush brought on the world reached a saturation point. Now an article scheduled for the next issue of Vanity Fair offers admissions from top Republican advisors that that was indeed the case.

"Katrina to me was the tipping point," said Matthew Dowd, Bush's pollster
and chief strategist for the 2004 presidential campaign. "The president
broke his bond with the public. Once that bond was broken, he no longer had
the capacity to talk to the American public. State of the Union addresses?
It didn't matter. Legislative initiatives? It didn't matter. P.R.? It didn't
matter. Travel? It didn't matter."

Dan Bartlett, former White House communications director and later counselor
to the president, said: "Politically, it was the final nail in the coffin."

In this sense the thousands who perished in New Orleans did not die in vain. Their lives were a sacrifice that purified the world of the lies of George Bush and made people draw a connection between the billions being wasted in a war of vanity in Iraq while a major American city was left for dead.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Freddie Hubbard dies at 70

Jazz trumpeter Freddie Hubbard passed away December 29 in Sherman Oaks Hospital in California at the age of 70. The cause of death was complications from a heart attack he suffered on November 26.

Hubbard was a great player and composer who moved in a lot of different directions. As a "Night of the Cookers" hard bop player few could touch him, but he was also part of the outstanding lineup that made Ornette Coleman's classic Free Jazz. He wrote the gorgeous ballad "Little Sunflower" and made one of the most popular records of the fusion era, the CTI touchstone Red Clay.

Hubbard played with John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Max Roach, Art Blakey, Bobby Hutcherson, Oliver Nelson, Andrew Hill, Eric Dolphy, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, and McCoy Tyner among others and made over 300 albums as a leader and sideman on Impulse!, Blue Note, Atlantic, CTI, Columbia, Elektra, MPS, Music Masters, Telarc, Enja and Hip Bop Records, which released his final album, On the Real Side, earlier this year.

Like so many of his peers, Hubbard is gone but his music will never die.

"Freddie Hubbard had the most incandescent spirit of almost any musician I ever had the opportunity to play with," said bassist Christian McBride. "He struck serious fear in those of us who thought we were ready to play with him. All of us who played with Freddie, like Billy Childs, Kenny Garrett, Carl Allen and Benny Green, among many, many others, we were taught to play hard, with fire, with intelligence, to leave NO question as to who you were as a musician. I will carry his memory with me for the rest of my life."

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Warren Haynes' 20th Christmas Jam

Warren Haynes, the great guitarist/vocalist/songwriter who splits his time between Gov't Mule, the Allman Brothers and a host of side projects, pulled out all the stops for his annual Christmas Jam, held last weekend in his hometown of Asheville, North Carolina. The event has become one of the most important ongoing sessions in rock history. Last year's edition has just come out on DVD. Here's an account of this year's proceedings:

(Asheville, NC) -- The Concert for Bangladesh brought world famous musicians together for a cause. The Band's Last Waltz film honored wonderful musicians. These events could be considered precursors to the legacy established by Warren Haynes and his annual Christmas Jam

Over the past twenty years Warren Haynes has brought the world's most influential musicians together for rare moments - and this year is no exception. Who else but Haynes would have the Allman Brothers Band performing "Dazed and Confused" with Led Zeppelin's legendary multi-instrumentalist John Paul Jones? Ben Harper chose the Christmas Jam to debut his new band Ben Harper and Relentless7. Country Legend Travis Tritt joined Haynes' Gov't Mule on the Lynyrd Skynyrd classic "Simple Man."

"For the 20th Anniversary it was our hope to make this the best Christmas Jam ever and I think we attained our goal. I feel very fortunate and incredibly honored that my friends and heroes found time
in their hectic schedules to come to my hometown of Asheville a few days of for spirited music and to support a wonderful cause in Habitat for Humanity," said Haynes.

In true "Christmas Jam Spirit," Michael Franti, who was scheduled to perform as an acoustic duo with guitarist Jay Bowman, decided moments before his set, after seeing the immense talent pool backstage, to expand his band to include John Paul Jones on mandolin, Robben Ford on guitar, longtime Willie Nelson sideman Mickey Raphael on harmonica, and Fred Eltringham (Jakob Dylan & The Gold Mountain Rebels) on percussion. Spontaneous collaborations like this and many more exemplify the Christmas Jam spirit.

While the Christmas Jam certainly is Haynes' event, the most anticipated guest musician would certainly be John Paul Jones. One of the weekend's most intimate moments was a short two song acoustic set by Haynes (guitar) and Jones (mandolin) performing the Haynes fan favorite "Soulshine" and the Led Zeppelin classic "Going to California."

Gov't Mule closed the second night with Jones joining the band on the Led Zeppelin classics "Livin' Lovin' Maid", "Since I've Been Lovin' You" and "No Quarter." Ben Harper then added vocals on "The Ocean" and "When The Levee Breaks".

Warren Haynes' 20th Annual Christmas Jam was held this past weekend December 12 and 13 at the Civic Center Arena in Asheville, NC. To celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Christmas Jam, Haynes decided to make this year's event a two night affair.

Both concerts reached capacity crowds and went well past the 2AM self-imposed curfew. Friday's concert ran from 7PM until 4:20AM. Saturday's show began at 7PM and ended at 3:30AM. All proceeds from the Christmas Jam will be donated to Habitat For Humanity. Complete set
lists for each act can be found at The following musicians performed at this years event:

Friday's acts included Allman Brothers Band, The Derek Trucks Band, The Del McCoury Band, Gov't Mule, Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk, Joan Osborne and Travis Tritt.

Saturday's acts included Ben Harper & Relentless7, Coheed & Cambria, Steve Earle, Michael Franti with Jay Bowman, Gov't Mule, and Johnny Winter also performed their own sets. Haynes gave a heartfelt introduction for Winter whom Haynes credits among his earliest musical

Musical guests included Mike Barnes, Buddy Cage, Roosevelt Collier, Karl Denson, Robben Ford, Ruthie Foster, Audley Freed, Ron Holloway, Patterson Hood, JJ Grey, Col. Bruce Hampton, Robert Kearns, Kevn Kinney, Eric Krasno, Edwin McCain, Mickey Raphael and Tal Wilkenfeld.

Although the main shows were at the Civic Center, that's not where the Christmas Jam ended, as events took place all around town over the course of the weekend. The Christmas Jam By Day featured live music by The Lee Boys, Year Long Disaster, U-Melt and many more during Friday and
Saturday afternoon at local Asheville clubs Stella Blue, The Emerald Lounge and fans lined up around the block for the Kevn Kinney hosted sets at Jack of the Wood.

Film screenings took place throughout the weekend at The Fine Arts Theatre including "Christmas On Mars" a fantastical film freakout featuring the Flaming Lips, a glorious science fiction film that marks the directorial debut of the Lips' visionary frontman Wayne Coyne; "Electric Purgatory: The Fate of The Black Rocker" a documentary that examines the struggles of black rock musicians and the industry's ambivalence towards them; and many more.

The Satellite Gallery hosted an art show which included Art & Photos by Danny Clinch, Jay Blakesberg, Jeff Wood, Steve Johannsen, Dino Perrucci, Allison Murphy, Stuart O'Sheilds and many more. The art display will be up for the rest of the year and items are still available for purchase.

Fans were invited "Before The Jam, To Lend A Hand" and volunteer to help build a house funded by a portion of last year's proceeds.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

30th annual Blues Music Awards



For a complete list of the 30th Blues Music Awards Nominees, click here:

WHAT: The Blues Music Awards
WHEN: Thursday, May 7, 2009
WHERE: Cook Convention Center, 255 N. Main, Memphis, TN
TICKETS: $125, available December 16, 2008 via or 901.527.2583 x10. (Tables of 10 are $1200.)

The Blues Foundation has confirmed the thirtieth annual Blues Music Awards, a seven-plus hour throw-down featuring dozens of incredible musicians and honoring the best of the blues world. Blues Foundation members will be able to vote starting today, through March 1, with the results determining the winners.

West coast-based group The Mannish Boys lead the pack this year with six nominations, including band, traditional album and album of the year in addition to individual nominations for band members Richard Innes (drums), Kid Ramos (guitar), and Larry Taylor (bass). Tied with four nominations each are slide guitar legend Elvin Bishop, pianist Eden Brent, songstress Janiva Magness, soul man Curtis Salgado, and former truck driver Watermelon Slim. Buddy Guy is nominated for three awards and B.B. King for two.
The Mississippi-based Homemade Jamz Blues Band are the youngest nominees at 9, 14, and 16 years of age. Sadly, Sean Costello received two posthumous nominations while Jeff Healey received one. Chicago elder statesman and torch bearer Magic Slim earned three nods. Lurrie Bell earned two nominations for an album he made while grieving the loss of his wife and his father, harp man Carrie Bell.

The Blues Foundation has added a Rock Blues category for the first time in
2009, with nominations going to Gary Moore, Jeff Healey, Michael Burks,
Smokin' Joe Kubek & Bnois King, Sonny Landreth, and Walter Trout.

Performers have not yet been confirmed for the 2009 show but all nominees are invited to take the stage, showing a broad range of blues styles from solo resonator fingerpicking to soul-blues shouters. For the blues fan, it's the only way to see a lineup like this and it annually threatens to rage well into the night.

The awards ceremony and concert will be broadcast live by Sirius XM Satellite Radio's B.B. King's Bluesville channel. The Blues Music Awards will be shot in HD for a DVD to be released in by October, 2009.

The Blues Foundation has 3,000 individual dues-paying members around the world and 160 affiliated grassroots, member-based local blues societies in a dozen countries.

The Blues Music Awards are produced by The Blues Foundation, a non-profit organization established to preserve Blues history, celebrate Blues excellence, support Blues education and ensure the future of this uniquely American art form. In addition to the Blues Music Awards, the Foundation also produces the Blues Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, the International Blues Challenge and the Keeping the Blues Alive Awards. It fosters education through its Blues in the Schools programming and supports the medical needs of Blues musicians with its HART Fund. Throughout the year, the Foundation staff serves the worldwide Blues community with answers, contact information and news. For more information or to join The Blues Foundation, log onto

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Jazz Fest announces lineup

New Orleans may be sinking into the Gulf, but not before next year's Jazz and Heritage Festival, the world's greatest music gathering. Here's the announcement for next year's fest, just released today:

Wynton Marsalis, Aretha Franklin, Dave Matthews Band, James Taylor, Sugarland, Joe Cocker, Ben Harper, Tony Bennett,
Earth, Wind & Fire, Kings of Leon,
Neville Brothers, Wilco, Bonnie Raitt, Allen Toussaint,
The O’Jays, Erykah Badu, Dr. John
Among hundreds scheduled to appear at historic edition of Festival

Tickets On Sale Now, Special Hotel Rooms & Rates Available
New Orleans, LA (December 16, 2008)—The 2009 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival Presented by Shell (April 24-26 & April 30-May 3) will celebrate 40 years of musical and cultural history at next year’s star-studded event. Started in 1970, the Jazz & Heritage Festival continues to showcase the most important names in music history alongside many of Louisiana’s favorite entertainers. A true heritage festival, Jazz Fest stands alone in presenting the highest caliber artists in such varied genres as gospel, blues, traditional and contemporary jazz, rock, pop, R&B, Cajun, zydeco and much more.

Wynton Marsalis, Aretha Franklin, Dave Matthews Band, James Taylor, Sugarland, Joe Cocker, Ben Harper, Tony Bennett, Earth, Wind, and Fire, Kings of Leon, The Neville Brothers, Wilco, Bonnie Raitt, Allen Toussaint, The O’Jays, Erykah Badu, Etta James, Johnny Winter, Buddy Guy, Los Lobos, Robert Cray, Toots and the Maytals, Dr. John, Spoon, Third World, Common, Orishas, Emmylou Harris, Irma Thomas, Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, Mavis Staples, The Whispers, Hugh Masekela, Doc Watson, Pete Seeger, John Mayall, Solomon Burke, Jakob Dylan, Rance Allen, Chuck Brown, Meter Men; Zig, George, & Leo, Kinky, Drive-By, Truckers feat. Booker T. Jones, Better Than Ezra, Avett Brothers, Pete Fountain, Galactic, Marcia Ball, Roy Haynes, Patty Griffin, Kurt Elling, Poncho Sanchez, John Scofield & the Piety Street Band, Marc Broussard, Rebirth Brass Band, Esperanza Spalding, Kind of Blue @ 50 Tribute to Miles Davis, Del McCoury Band, Aaron Neville, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Odadaa of Ghana, The Genius of Sydney Bechet: A Tribute feat. Bob Wilber, Guy Clark, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Roy Rogers, Chris Owens, VaShawn Mitchell, Dew Drop Inn Revisited hosted by Deacon John, George Wein and Friends w/ Randy Brecker, Kermit Ruffins and the Barbeque Swingers, Terence Blanchard, Ivan Neville & Dumpstaphunk, Tab Benoit and the Wetland Allstars, Anointed Jackson Sisters, Ellis Marsalis, Dirty Dozen, Robert Mirabal, Trombone Shorty, The Vettes, Cedric Burnside, Lil’ Ed & the Imperials, Stephanie Jordan, Radiators, Buckwheat Zydeco, Amanda Shaw, The Ebony Hillbillies, Cowboy Mouth, Trout Fishing in America, Harlem Blues & Jazz Band, Tribute to Danny Barker, Amameresso Agofomma of Ghana, Crocodile Gumboot Dancers of South Africa, Ori Danse Club of Benin, Ladysmith Redlions of South Africa, Cheick Hamala Diabate of Mali and hundreds more are scheduled to appear at the 40th anniversary celebration. (The complete weekend by weekend schedule is available at

“From day one in 1970, the goal of the Festival has remained unchanged as Jazz Fest continues to celebrate the living breathing culture of New Orleans and Louisiana,” said Quint Davis, producer/director of Jazz Fest. “While the size and impact of the Festival have dramatically increased, we have never lost sight of the original goal of presenting this unique culture to the world through music, the finest in local cuisine, and the sheer celebration of life.”

Jazz & Heritage Festival Founder and Executive Producer, George Wein, proudly stated, “It is wonderful to see the Festival continue the joyous legacy that began almost four decades ago in Congo Square. There can only be one festival this grand, entertaining and important, because there is only one New Orleans.”

Randy Philips, president & CEO, AEG Live, which co-produces the Festival said, "The 40th Anniversary Jazz Fest is one of the most highly anticipated events of 2009. AEG Live is proud to play a part in taking this legendary annual celebration to new heights."

Wynton Marsalis, the preeminent jazz artist and ambassador of his generation and one of New Orleans’ favorite sons, will headline the first day of the Festival, Friday, April 24, performing the epic composition Congo Square, featuring the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Yacub Addy and Odadaa!.

"It’s an honor to be part of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival’s 40th anniversary, thanks to the ongoing leadership of our friend George Wein,” stated Wynton Marsalis, Artistic Director, Jazz at Lincoln Center. “Yacub Addy and I wrote and dedicated Congo Square to the great city of New Orleans and in April 2006, with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and Yacub’s group, Odadaa!, we debuted the music on the actual site of Congo Square. We look forward to bringing the music back, celebrating New Orleans and this momentous anniversary for the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.”

Tickets for the Festival, which takes place at the Fair Grounds Race Course, went on sale today. For the first time ever, a limited number of discount ticket packages including tickets to each day of a particular weekend of the Festival will be offered. Ticket packages purchased for all three days of the first weekend (April 24, 25 & 26) will be $105, while second weekend packages purchased for all four festival days (April 30, May 1, 2 & 3) will be $140. (Tickets included in each package are day-specific.) Advance single day Jazz Fest tickets are still only $40 with the gate price of $50. Children’s tickets (ages 2 - 11) are only $5 in advance or at the gate. Single day tickets to Jazz Fest are on sale by specific weekend, with each ticket valid for a single day’s attendance.

The Festival’s popular Big Chief VIP Experience ticket package and the Grand Marshal VIP Pass return for the 40th anniversary celebration, as well as the newly unveiled Krewe of Jazz Fest VIP Pass that allows for special covered seating at the Acura Stage audience area plus other amenities. All the hugely popular VIP packages are on sale now while very limited supplies last. (See for details.)

Tickets are available at and, at all Ticketmaster outlets or by calling (800) 745-3000. Tickets can be purchased in person at the Jazz Fest ticket office located at the Louisiana Superdome Box Office (Gate A, Ground Level) or the New Orleans Arena Box Office. All Jazz Fest tickets are subject to additional service fees and handling charges.

A listing of hotels offering special Jazz Fest rates is posted at, where patrons can effortlessly reserve their hotel rooms for the event. Festivalgoers can peruse room availability and book their accommodations early taking advantage of some of the best prices offered at participating hotels.

Shell is the Presenting Sponsor of the Festival. Acura is proudly celebrating its 10th year as sponsor of the Festival’s main stage. People’s Health, Miller Lite, Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation & Tourism, AT&T, Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots (A Churchill Downs Company), Capital One Bank, Sheraton New Orleans Hotel, Pepsi, Rajen Kilachand and St. Charles Vision are all also official Jazz Fest sponsors.

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Foundation, Inc. is the nonprofit organization that owns the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival presented by Shell, and uses the proceeds from that festival for year-round activities in the areas of education, economic development and cultural programming. Programs and assets of the foundation include: radio station WWOZ 90.7-FM, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation Archive, the Don “Moose” Jamison Heritage School of Music, the Tom Dent Congo Square Lecture Series, the Jazz Journey concert series, the Community Partnership Grants program and the Raisin’ the Roof housing initiative. The foundation also produces community events such as the Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival, Fiesta Latina, the Congo Square Rhythms Festival, the Down by the Riverside concerts and others. For more information, please call the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation at (504) 558-6100 or visit

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival presented by Shell is a co-production of Festival Productions, L.L.C.(a wholly owned subsidiary of Festival Productions, Inc.-New Orleans) and AEG Louisiana Production, L.L.C.(a subsidiary of AEG Live).

Disappearing Louisiana

The New Orleans Times-Picayune just published a three-part story documenting the near-certainty of southeast Louisiana's disappearance in the next 50 years. The current path of the Mississippi river may well resemble the Florida Keys at that point as the fabled Isle of Orleans becomes surrounded by water. As a half-time resident of the city I realize that my 150 year old house, which has survived numerous hurricanes and at least one serious fire, probably won't survive me by very much time. Nevertheless it's still worth living in this magic place for as long as it exists. Here's Part 1 of the TP's story. You can read the whole thing at:

Part 1: Because of subsidence and global warming, Louisiana is slowly disappearing
by Bob Marshall, The Times-Picayune
Saturday December 13, 2008, 8:36 PM
Seventy miles south of New Orleans, on the eastern end of Grand Isle, a small tide gauge records the Gulf of Mexico rising against the surrounding land. The monthly increases are microscopic, narrower than a single strand of hair.

Climate scientists recording those results think they add up to something huge. The gauge, they say, may be quietly writing one of the first big stories in the age of global warming: the obituary for much of southeast Louisiana.

View interactive graphic

In 50 to 100 years, the numbers tell them, rising seas caused by global warming, combined with the steady subsidence of Louisiana's coast, will lift the Gulf of Mexico two to six feet higher in many areas surrounding New Orleans.

Such a rise would overwhelm the most ambitious coastal restoration plans now under way and submerge almost everything in southeast Louisiana outside hurricane levees. And that means the areas inside the levees essentially would become coastline, far more vulnerable to hurricanes and continuing coastal erosion, and in need of a far more drastic and expensive flood protection apparatus.

Read related story: Sea levels have been rising globally for ages.

"The delta of the Mississippi River is the most vulnerable location in the nation to global warming, because it is sinking at the same time sea level is rising, " said Virginia Burkett, a senior researcher at the National Wetlands Research Center in Lafayette and one of the nation's foremost experts on climate change. "And it's only going to get worse.

"This area is facing big trouble from climate change. I think there's consensus on that point."

A lot at stake

As the scientific forecasts of global warming gain popular acceptance, many Americans now ponder how their lives might change.

Changing coastline: Download file

Longer, hotter summers. Shorter, warmer winters. Less rain, or more. Lifestyle adjustments ranging from different light bulbs to hybrid-powered cars.

But climate scientists now say residents in low-lying, fast-sinking southeast Louisiana will have a more serious concern: survival.

"People who live here have a lot more at stake in what happens in the Antarctic and Greenland than any people in this country, " Tulane researcher Torbjorn Tornqvist said. "We know we're sinking, and we know sea level is rising. . . . If either gets much worse, we'll be among the first to experience disaster."

These predictions come on top of already dire warnings that the traditional forces of coastal erosion -- sediment deprivation and canal dredging -- have left the state with less than a decade to fix that problem or face permanent land loss.

We are not alone: Download file

The additional threat from global warming not only reinforces the need to speed coastal restoration efforts, scientists say, it also raises critical questions about many vital hurricane protection and coastal restoration projects in the planning stages or already under way.

Are the projects being designed to meet the increased threats from sea-level rise, including higher storm surges and expanding areas of open water? Can the planned structures be adapted to meet increased threats, as the Gulf rises and the land sinks? Will pumping stations that battle rainwater flooding have enough power to lift water two to four feet higher? Are the causeways and bridges that link the region's communities high enough to survive the gradually rising tides -- not to mention stronger storm surges?

Evidence behind sea rise: Download file

Are the state and city even planning for the changes the world's scientific community says are heading our way?

Not if, but when

Scientists involved in global warming research speak with confidence about the threats to coastal Louisiana, because they are based on three factors that generate little debate:

-- Subsidence in Louisiana, documented for decades, will continue at alarming rates for the foreseeable future.

-- Sea-level rise is one of the most widely accepted, easily measurable effects of the warming climate.

-- Even if the world moves aggressively to reduce suspected causes of global warming, sea levels would continue to rise for centuries as the oceans slowly respond to temperatures that have been rising since the 1800s.

"The debate within the scientific community is no longer 'if' this will happen. It's now 'when and how quickly, ' " Burkett said.

University of New Orleans researcher Shea Penland, in one of his last interviews before he died this year, summed up the scenario: "Without some really huge and immediate steps to meet this new challenge, we're just S.O.L."

Yet scientists are concerned that a threat growing by only fractions of an inch each year will be underestimated by decision-makers. In contrast to an instant and overwhelming disaster like Katrina, sea-level rise will proceed slowly, almost imperceptibly -- until it's too late to address.

"We're like that frog in the pot of water on the stove -- if we wait until it starts boiling, we won't be able to jump out, " said Burkett, echoing a sentiment common in the scientific community.

Scientific agreement

Worldwide, the scientific community speaks through the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change , established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations. Consisting of scientists and government agencies from dozens of nations including the United States, the panel sought to determine whether the planet was warming, the causes and potential impacts, and how governments might adapt.

In 1990, the panel began releasing a series of reports confirming global warming, and outlining the primary cause: Greenhouse gases, the carbon-based pollutants released in the burning of fossil fuels, are trapping heat inside the atmosphere. The panel has recommended immediate dramatic reductions in these pollutants to begin curbing the problem. However, the panel admits the process is so advanced that many changes already under way will continue through this century even in the face of an aggressive cleanup.

One of those changes is accelerating sea-level rise.

Because the forecasts from the climate change panel rely on complicated computer modeling, researchers can't predict impacts with certainty. But as the panel moves toward its third decade, members' confidence has increased. More sophisticated models have been supported by real-world events, such as the recent rapid melting of glaciers and polar ice fields. Predictions that once were termed "possible" are now made with "high confidence."

Although serious scientific debate remains about some of those projections, the predictions for sea-level rise, which could slowly drown coastal communities worldwide, has drawn wider agreement.

That consensus rests on two indisputable events that will occur as oceans continue to warm:

-- Sea-water will expand as it warms, encroaching into land masses worldwide.

-- The runoff from melting glaciers and ice fields will increase the total volume of the oceans.

The latter impact has recently become a grave concern because ice fields and glaciers have started melting more rapidly than the climate panel's models predicted just two years ago. Climate scientists, alarmed by the increase, are struggling to understand the causes.

"If these rates continue in Greenland and the Antarctic, then all bets are off, " Burkett said. "Then we're not talking about two to four to six feet of rise, we're talking about something much greater and even more rapid."

Worldwide, the midrange estimate predicts oceans will rise 18 inches by 2100.

Louisiana faces a far more alarming forecast. Here, those same models predict that, relative to land, water levels will rise 2 to 6 feet, with the highest rates in the southeastern coast surrounding New Orleans.

The subsidence problem

The difference owes to subsidence.

Louisiana falls victim to what scientists term "relative" sea-level rise: the net result when water rises at the same time land sinks. And the southeast portion of the state's coast, the vast delta of the Mississippi River, is subsiding at one of the fastest rates in the world.

Healthy coastal wetlands could probably handle a rise of 18 inches over 100 years, scientists say, because they have a natural ability to gain elevation through the regular arrival of new building material from three sources: sediment from spring river floods, storm surges that carry offshore sediments onshore, and the steady deposit of new soil created from decaying plants in healthy wetlands. This is the process called "accretion."

Wetlands can also adjust to rising sea level by migrating northward in their basins and colonizing higher ground.

"And, in fact, there are wetlands in this region that have been doing quite well against current levels of relative sea-level rise, " said Denise Reed, a wetlands researcher at UNO. "So, by itself, the projections of sea-level rise we're seeing published are no reason to think healthy wetland ecosystems can't keep pace."

An example of such a healthy wetland is the delta of the Atchafalaya River on the central Louisiana coast. Unrestrained by levees, the Atchafalaya has built more than 27 square miles of new land in the past 40 years.

But the health of southeast Louisiana's wetlands began to fail in the early 1900s when federal and state levees shut off river sediment from flowing into the wetlands. Erosion accelerated in the mid-1900s with extensive canal dredging for oil, gas, shipping and housing development, cutting through healthy wetlands and ultimately creating vast expanses of open water.

Those problems alone make it difficult for much of the region to keep pace with the 18-inch rise in sea level expected by the end of the century just from rising surface temperatures. When subsidence is added to the equation, natural adaptation becomes impossible, coastal experts think.

Fate of the region

The numbers are grim. Southeast Louisiana is expected to sink between two and five feet by the end of the century -- one of the fastest subsidence rates on the planet. Those estimates are supported by real-life measurements that show sea level has been rising one inch every 30 months in some sections of the southeast coast. That rate would result in a 16-inch rise by 2050.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change asked its computers how high the Gulf of Mexico would rise along the Louisiana coast. Researchers calculated varying scenarios of subsidence and rates of sea-level rise, determined by how quickly the world moved to reduce greenhouse gases.

The best-case scenario, which includes a rapid atmospheric cleanup and slower subsidence, shows rises of 12 inches in 50 years and 24 inches in 100 years.

The worst-case scenario, using little change in greenhouse gas build-up, shows a 38-inch rise in 50 years and more than 6 feet in 100 years, a rate that could drown many areas surrounding New Orleans and make the city all but an island.

And studies completed since those 2007 projections trend away from any best-case endings, indicating greenhouse gasses are accumulating much faster than predicted just 12 months ago. This latest research, Burkett said, showed the amount of carbon in the atmosphere by the end of this century could be double the pre-industrial levels of the late 1800s.

"The elephant in the room remains the rate of ice sheet declines, either in Greenland or western Antarctica, " Burkett said. "If they were to disintegrate, we could see a sea level rise" of 16 to 19 feet.

Researchers familiar with southeast Louisiana's rapidly deteriorating coastal wetlands agree that even the best-case scenarios threaten to inundate all areas outside of hurricane levees during the next century -- unless rapid and aggressive coastal restoration starts within a few years.

"Most of that area (outside the Atchafalaya) is struggling to stay even with the old rates of sea-level rise, so I don't think they stand much chance of surviving what the models are forecasting, " said Don Cahoon, a U.S. Geological Survey researcher who wrote some of the most detailed studies of accretion in Louisiana marshes. "They just can't gain enough elevation under the present conditions to adjust."

UNO's Penland laughed off hopes that healthy marshes in the region could survive even the low-range sea-level rise predictions.

"When you add subsidence to rates of sea-level rise we know are coming due to global warming, " he said, "the scenario goes from threatening to disastrous."

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Odetta dies at 77

The great blues and folk singer Odetta died Tuesday. She lived long enough to see her dream of a Black President fulfilled, but didn't last long enough to sing at Obama's inauguration, which was her hope. The New York Times obit follows.

Odetta, Voice of Civil Rights Movement, Dies at 77

New York Times
December 3, 2008

Odetta, the singer whose deep voice wove together the strongest songs of
American folk music and the civil rights movement, died Tuesday. She was 77.

The cause was heart disease, said her manager, Doug Yeager.

He added that she had been hoping to sing at Barack Obama's inauguration.

Odetta - she was born Odetta Holmes - sang at coffeehouses and Carnegie Hall
and released several albums, becoming one of the most widely known and
influential folk-music artists of the 1950s and 60s.

Her voice was an accompaniment to the black-and-white images of the freedom
marchers who walked the roads of Alabama and Mississippi and the boulevards
of Washington in quest of an end to racial discrimination.

Rosa Parks, the woman who started the boycott of segregated buses in
Montgomery, Ala., was once asked which songs meant the most to her. She
replied, "All of the songs Odetta sings."

Odetta sang at the August 1963 march on Washington, a pivotal event in the
civil rights movement. Her song that day was "O Freedom," dating back to
slavery days.

Born in Birmingham on Dec. 31, 1930, Odetta Holmes spent her first six years
in the depths of the Depression. The music of that time and place - in
particular prison song and work songs recorded in the fields of the deep
South - shaped her life.

"They were liberation songs," she said in a videotaped interview with The
New York Times in 2007, for its online feature "The Last Word." "You're
walking down life's road, society's foot is on your throat, every which way
you turn you can't get from under that foot. And you reach a fork in the
road and you can either lie down and die, or insist upon your life."

Her father, Reuben Holmes, died when she was young; she and her mother,
Flora Sanders, who later remarried, moved to Los Angeles in 1937. Three
years later, Odetta discovered she could sing.

"A teacher told my mother that I had a voice, that maybe I should study,"
she recalled. "But I myself didn't have anything to measure it by."

She found her own voice by listening to blues, jazz and folk music from the
African-American and Anglo-American traditions. She earned a music degree
from Los Angeles City College. Her training in classical music and musical
theater was "a nice exercise, but it had nothing to do with my life," she

"The folk songs were - the anger," she emphasized.

In a 2005 National Public Radio interview, she said: "School taught me how
to count and taught me how to put a sentence together. But as far as the
human spirit goes, I learned through folk music."

In 1950, Odetta began singing professionally in a West Coast production of
the musical "Finian's Rainbow," but she found a stronger calling in the
bohemian coffeehouses of San Francisco. "We would finish our play, we'd go
to the joint, and people would sit around playing guitars and singing songs
and it felt like home," she said in the 2007 interview with The Times.

She began singing in nightclubs, cutting a striking figure with her guitar
and her close-cropped hair. (She noted late in life that she was one of the
first black performers in the United States to wear an "Afro" hairstyle -
"they used to call it 'the Odetta,' " she said.)

Her voice plunged deep and soared high, and her songs blended the personal
and the political, the theatrical and the spiritual. Her first solo album,
"Odetta Sings Ballads and Blues," resonated with an audience hearing old
songs made new.

"The first thing that turned me on to folk singing was Odetta," Bob Dylan
said, referring to that record, in a 1978 interview with Playboy . He said
he heard "something vital and personal. I learned all the songs on that
record." It was her first, and the songs were "Mule Skinner," "Jack of
Diamonds," "Water Boy," " 'Buked and Scorned."

Her blues and spirituals led directly to her work for the civil-rights
movement. They were two rivers running together, she said in her interview
with The Times. The words and music captured "the fury and frustration that
I had growing up." They were heard by the people who were present at the
creation of the civil rights movement, people who "heard on the grapevine
about this lady who was singing these songs." She played countless benefits;
the money she raised underwrote the work of keeping the movement alive.

Her fame hit a peak in 1963, when she marched with Martin Luther King in
Selma and performed for President John F. Kennedy. But after King was
assassinated in 1968, the wind went out of the sails of the civil-rights
movement and the songs of protest and resistance that had been the
movement's soundtrack. Odetta's fame flagged for years thereafter. She
recorded fewer records, although she performed on stage as a singer and an
actor, during the 1970s and 1980s. She revived her career in the 1990s, and
thereafter appeared regularly on "A Prairie Home Companion," the popular
public-radio show. In 1999 she recorded her first album in 14 years, and
that year President Bill Clinton awarded her the National Endowment for the
Arts Medal of the Arts and Humanities from. In 2003 she received a "Living
Legend" tribute from the Library of Congress and the Kennedy Center
Visionary Award.

Odetta was married three times: to Don Gordon, to Gary Shead, and, in 1977,
to the blues musician Iverson Minter, known professionally as Louisiana Red.
The first marriages ended in divorce; Mr. Minter moved to Germany in 1983 to
pursue his performing career.

She was singing and performing well into the 21st century, and her influence
stayed strong through the decades.

In April 2007, half a century after Mr. Dylan heard her, she was onstage at
a Carnegie Hall tribute to Bruce Springsteen. She turned one of his songs,
"57 Channels," into a chanted poem, and Mr. Springsteen came out from the
wings to call it "the greatest version" of the song he had ever heard.

Reviewing a December 2006 performance, James Reed of the Boston Globe wrote:
"Odetta's voice is still a force of nature - something commented upon
endlessly as folks exited the auditorium - and her phrasing and sensibility
for a song have grown more complex and shaded."

The critic called her "a majestic figure in American music, a direct gateway
to bygone generations that feel so foreign today."

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company