For jazz fans, what better cause is there than helping a musician in need? On Sunday, July 30, the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund (NOMRF) is sponsoring a benefit show for composer/arranger Wardell Quezergue at the Black Orchid in Chicago. Like many others in the New Orleans area, Quezergue lost everything to Katrina. Quezergue, otherwise known as the “Creole Beethoven,” boasts a career that runs nearly a half-century deep and includes work on hit records like the Dixie Cups’ Iko Iko and Chapel of Love. In addition, he has worked with music legends like B.B. King, Willie Nelson and the Supremes. NOMRF is a non-profit organization founded by displaced New Orleans musicians Jeff and Karen Beninato.
This event in Quezergue’s honor will feature a solo appearance by the Night Tripper himself, Dr. John (pictured). Mike Mills of R.E.M will be a special guest, and James Andrews, Cranston Clements, Kirk Joseph (of the Dirty Dozen), Craig Klein (of Harry Connick’s big band) and Stanton Moore (of Galactic) will come together to open the show as a N’awlins funk band. The second portion of the show will be lead by Native American singer/songwriter Rev. Goat Carson. Carson is responsible for NOMRF’s series of benefits for musicians affected by Katrina and is himself a victim of the hurricane. If you are unfamiliar with Carson’s music career, his other claim to fame is his 1970 presidential bid in which he received 100,000 votes.
It’s no surprise that this long list of musicians is ready and waiting to help Quezergue. After all, he arranged music for many of their albums, such as Dr. John’s Goin’ Back to New Orleans. The Black Orchid is donating the venue to NOMRF for the evening and will also be serving a New Orleans style menu of appetizers and desserts. Showtime is 7 p.m. and you must be 21 to attend. Tickets are still available at nomrf.org.