Friday, 11 March 2011
GIG #69 - Nothing's For Free
GIG #69 @ Katrina House/The Moonwalk, New Orleans, LA. Select repertoire:
St. James Infirmary - Trad.
Libertango - Piazzolla
From Sheldon H. Laskin's New Orleans: Lament for a Royal City
David Fountain has an infectious laugh. When he smiles, the wrinkles on his 65-year-old face smile with him. A retired dock worker, he lives off a pension.
I stop to take pictures of the gaudily decorated display in Mr. Fountain’s front yard. Musical instruments, mannequins, a boat -- named, of course, Katrina -- gaily painted and decked out with beads fill the yard. Mr. Fountain is inside the house, entertaining two friends with generous helpings of whiskey. He invites me in.
The water line in Mr. Fountain’s house is at 5 feet, 5 inches. After Katrina, Mr. Fountain returned to a house reeking with mold. He slept on the roof while he gutted the house. The four modest rooms are now surprisingly clean, although, with the exception of the front room, the house has the look and feel of an unfinished basement.
But that front room. It is outfitted with Mr. Fountain’s computer, scanner and fax machine. That, plus his wireless connection and cell phone, keep him connected to the outside world. And Mr. Fountain needs to be connected now, because of the museum.
After he returned, Mr. Fountain started to comb through debris piles, looking for musical instruments, sheet music, posters of local musical celebrities and other paraphernalia of the musical legacy of his neighborhood. Over the past sixteen months, he has accumulated a roomful of exhibits; a trombone, a clarinet and a piano are the mainstays of his little museum. Mr. Fountain politely declines my offer of a contribution, although he proudly shows off the blowup of the $300 check he received from a donor who was wise enough not to offer cash.
I ask to take Mr. Fountain’s picture. He asks to have his wife included. I am puzzled. Wife? I went through the entire house; there’s no one else here. “Oh, yes.” Mr. Fountain insists. “She’s on the roof. I’ll get her.”
So I snap a few pictures outside, waiting for Mr. and Mrs. Fountain. I copy the names off the door lintel -- David and Katrina Fountain -- so I can mail them the photographs.
Mr. Fountain calls from the roof. There he is, in full Mardi Gras regalia, his arm around a gaudily attired female mannequin -- the lifelong bachelor’s wife, Katrina. Mr. Fountain laughs long and loud over what I come to learn from an article in the Harvard Crimson he proudly hands me, is a running joke he’s pulled, yet again, on an innocent rube from the North.
Harvard Crimson Article:
Meet My Wife, Katrina