Why New Orleans isn’t Nashville – and Never Will Be

Taking as a starting point the recent retirement of John Snyder as director of Loyola University’s Music Industry Studies Program in New Orleans, Offbeat Magazine’s feisty editor and publisher Jan Ramsey uses Snyder’s analysis of the scene to dispute the idea that the Crescent City could ever be another Music City like the one in Tennessee. Snyder, who as a producer worked for such labels as A&M Horizon, Artist’s House, CTI and Atlantic among others, and helped oversee the release of many Jazz milestones, including sessions by alto saxophonist Ornette Coleman, bassist Charlie Haden and the Revolutionary Ensemble featuring violinist Leroy Jenkins, is a sophisticated observer of the music business. He starts his musings by pointing out that “New Orleans is more about non-conformity and Nashville is more about conformity,” and goes on from there. The drawback to trying to create a home-grown equivalent to Nashville in New Orleans, declare Snyder and Ramsey, is the latter city’s emphasis on commercial growth, monetization, formula, repetition and having music on the radio to sell products. On the other hand New Orleans, especially its Jazz, which was supposedly “born” there, and other local sounds, is about improvisation and new structures and reflects the music of the streets.