This week, World Cafe invites listeners to discover the music of New Orleans with the series Sense of Place.
As a transplant to the funky Bywater neighborhood in New Orleans, East Coast native Ani DiFranco has a fresh perspective on life in the Crescent City. The Grammy-winning singer-songwriter, a relative newcomer to the area, was quick to offer World Cafe's David Dye a tour of her favorite neighborhood haunts.
Quickly acclimating herself to music and activism in the city, DiFranco found her way to the Roots of Music Program. The organization, run by Rebirth Brass Band drummer Derrick Tab, supports an effort to fill a void in the city's music education system, an integral component to New Orleans' cultural spirit.
In her quest to seek out great local bands in New Orleans, DiFranco stumbled upon the up-and-coming roots-rock group Hurray for the Riff Raff. The group's blend of honky-tonk, soul and rock 'n' roll is spearheaded by 25-year-old Alynda Lee Segarra. At 17, Segarra left her home in the Bronx, hopping from one freight train to the next until she found her way to New Orleans. Arriving just weeks before Hurricane Katrina struck, Segarra found her inspiration when she teamed up with the city's street musicians to write and perform. Her latest album, Look Out Mama, explores American roots music through the lens of the young traveler.