NEW YORK (Billboard) - Until Hurricane Katrina swept through New Orleans in 2005, leaving devastation and massive flooding in its wake, the Neville Brothers had spent their whole lives living in the Crescent City.
Now, like so many of the city’s musical families and, for that matter, nonmusical families, they’ve been scattered to various parts of the country -- Aaron in New York, Charles in Boston, Cyril in Austin. Only Art has been able to maintain his local residence, even though he hasn’t moved back into his house yet.
”Unfortunately,“ he says, ”we have a house we still can’t live in down here. We live down the street from it. I’ve been here all the time and I don’t see too much progress. The French Quarter and places they wanted to keep going for the tourism, that part is slowly coming back. But, as far as the places that I knew when I was a young person, they’re not back and they probably never will come back.
“If you’ve got money, you can come back,” he says. “In the poor areas, those poor people will never come back again. At least, I don’t think they ever will.”
Since the storm, Cyril has worn out the engine in his van driving back and forth to help out with the cleanup and check on his hometown. The brothers joined with the Tipitina’s Foundation and other artists to record “Goin’ Home: A Tribute to Fats Domino,” where all proceeds help local musicians. They’ve donated tracks to “From the Big Apple to the Big Easy” and other benefit albums, and have donated the proceeds from recent releases to the cleanup effort.
Most of all, they’re all holding out hope for the city they love. Cyril says, “New Orleans is going to always be a beautiful city to live in. It will always have historical (significance) to the country and to the world.”