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Deep in Louisiana, the New Orleans music scene has always been a mixed bag of musical influences that stem from cultural cross-pollination and intergenerational hand-offs. Nowhere is that more evident than at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. At one tent, an 84-year old gospel singer could belt to the heavens and afterwards invite an 11-year old prodigy up on stage who sings out notes equally awe inspiring. At another show during the Festival, Nashville singer songwriter Lucinda Williams warms the crowd for the gold standard of songwriters, Bob Dylan; two stellar singer-songwriters that draw somewhat different generations.

Perhaps it's as a result of this swirling, almost incestuous, storm of music that never stops. Maybe it's the musical history of the melting-pot port town or just the sultry weather and smells of gardenias and jasmine in the air. Whatever the case may be, there is a long history of passing the torch from old school musical stylings to new school pioneers and up-and-comers.

In a lot of cases, music runs in the blood. Take for instance, Jeff Henson, a musician who has played with the Kudzu Kings, Galactic, Dash Rip Rock, Cowboy Mouth and others. He stood backstage, grinning and proudly crossing his arms as his 7-year-old-son Alex walked out on stage in front of 10,000 fans to join the New Orleans band Cowboy Mouth on the washboard.

"I'm a jack of all trades but master of none," he smiles. "But who knows with Alex?"

In fact, Alex has already played several times with Cowboy Mouth to crowds of over 10,000 people. In his spare time out of kindergarten, he takes piano lessons and plus other instrument lessons from his father. Alex made his way around the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and even managed to get the legendary Fats Domino to sign his already well-worn washboard. At this pace, it should be only a matter of years, it seems, until he's crisscrossing the United States playing gigs and keeping it all together in a Palm Pilot. Come to think of it, he might already have a palm pilot.

Then take the Neville’s, a musical New Orleans funk version of the Kennedy clan where there are too many to count and have more musical talent than most entire cities.

It has been predicted that whenever keyboardist Art Neville retires, there's a possibility nephew Ivan Neville will take over his post. Last year, during the Jazz Fest, Art Neville spoke during a set with The Meters about getting older and life going on, sending a clear message of welcoming a new generation of Neville’s.

Meanwhile, Ivan Neville plays a ferocious style on the Hammond B3 organ while the bongos, guitar and horn sections go off in a style once performed by their fathers and grandfathers. Most of the band's members are offspring of a Neville.

At Tipitina's--a New Orleans institution of where old school music often meets new--there was one perfect example. Luther Dickinson and Dwayne Burnside lead and rhythm guitarists for the North Mississippi Allstars, both come from an interesting blues lineage.

Famous Memphis producer Jim Dickinson is the father of Luther and Cody (drums) Dickinson and Duwayne Burnside is the Grandchild of RL Burnside. Both RL Burnside and Jim Dickinson have passed the torch on to their children of a new generation. North Mississippi Allstars played a late set at Tipitina's on Sunday May 27th in which they were also accompanied by ex-Allman Brothers guitarist and perennial bad boy Dickey Betts for the entire second set.

As the sun crept over the houses along Napoleon and Tchoupitoulas and the show came to an end, Dickinson grabbed his heart in reverence and shook hands with Dickey Betts and yet another torch was passed.

www.Dishmag.com / Issue 33 - September 7104
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