New Orleans Airlift has a week to go in a Kickstarter campaign to build a permanent musical shanty town, and it needs your help.
Each of New Orleans Airlift’s Music Boxes has been different. The original collection of musical architecture in the Bywater was crammed on a Piety Street lot with a density that gave each fort and shack-like structure a view of others, but none could clearly see all the others. When the non-profit arts organization built one of its “roving villages” in City Park last year, the artists who constructed the pieces took advantage of the space that what used to be part of a golf course made possible to give the performers better sight lines, but the distance between structures made it hard for them to hear each other.
Still, each space has been artistically engaging as the artists commissioned by Airlift merge aesthetics. The Music Boxes have shared of love of naive art's handmade, rough hewn quality, but that is paired with conceptual sophistication and an embrace of contemporary technology. The best ideas embody a poker-faced wit that comes from being deliberately literal with a healthy sense of play. They're also musically flexible, and the improvised music created in and with these structures has been remarkably varied. As we wrote last year of the City Park installation:
On its opening weekend, the performance conducted by William Parker evoked old school avant-garde, complete with a “town crier” walking through the crowd with a bullhorn reading a text about class and improvisation, and a woman dancing and carrying a censer through the crowd. During Jazz Fest, members of Wilco joined a number of New Orleans musicians for a Quintron-directed performance that was often surprisingly ethereal. The space has inspired singers along side instruments with sounds not found in nature as well as a version of "House of the Rising Sun" with Nels Cline playing guitar through the telephone booth fit with a Leslie-like speaker and Luke Winslow-King playing slide guitar into an instrument that that activates the resonant frequencies in sheets of metal.
Since the beginning, the plan has been to create a permanent Music Box, and now Airlift has a space and a Kickstarter campaign to help make that goal a reality. The campaign has a week to go and could use your help. For more on The Music Box, here is a two-part story on the City Park installation (part one and part two), and videos from New Orleans Airlift to further illustrate what The Music Box is and could be.