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Vote Early Vote Often -- New Orleans in the Running

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How many times in your life can you vote once a day? Legally?

For your consideration, the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund (NOMRF) is a finalist for the MySpace Community Building Impact Awards for the next 10 days. It gives our grass roots nonprofit the potential to reach more than 75 million MySpace members and receive $10,000 toward helping New Orleans musicians. MySpace has been a great way to find and help musicians who have not been able to make their way home.

If the whole social networking thing seems a little daunting, ask any relative under 16 -- my niece got NOMRF signed up. Visit myspace.com/nomrf to see our video / downloads / photos / blogs -- it's kind of jaunty. So many people send friend requests every day, it reminds us that international music lovers are keeping the culture alive. So are the musicians.

The new Entertainment Weekly has a roster of quotes that let the musicians speak for themselves. Here's part of the timeline:

Dr. John, singer-pianist, New Orleans legend ''I was on tour when Katrina hit. Playing while all that was going down was the worst feeling in the world.''

Irma Thomas, Grammy-winning ''Soul Queen of New Orleans'' ''We left that Saturday to go to a job in Austin. We played the gig Sunday night and said, 'Okay, when we get up Monday morning we'll see what's left of the city.' When we saw the news after breakfast, I turned to my husband and said, 'Baby, we don't have a home to go to.'''

Cyril Neville, the Neville Brothers ''We lost everything. Twenty-five years of reel-to-reel tapes, home movies, writings, my book collection -- all of that's gone. Aaron [Neville, Cyril's brother] lost everything. I lost everything.''

Kenneth Terry, the Treme Brass Band ''The house I was renting had a lot of damage. Actually, the house next to my house fell on it.''

Mitch Landrieu, lieutenant governor of Louisiana ''They basically did Voodoo as a gift to the recovery workers. A lot of the National Guard came.''

Stephen Rehage ''I remember joking, 'I think we can let security go. The audience has machine guns.' Behind the New Orleans stage, I ran out of booze every 15 minutes. Kermit Ruffins, who had to go on at the end of the day -- we found him dancing in the audience. We had to grab him and go, You're up next. Come on!''

Kermit Ruffins, jazz trumpeter ''Yeah, I was hanging out [laughs]. It was a hell of a thing. Just for that little while all the people in the audience forgot what happened, you know.''

Ivan Neville, funk band Dumpstaphunk ''It was perfect that they had Jazz Fest, to make a statement that we're trying to rebuild this place. Obviously, it's not rebuilt physically. I don't know what they've done to the levees [laughs]. Nobody knows about that.''

Quint Davis ''Fats was closing the festival. I got the call [that he couldn't perform] at 2 o'clock in the afternoon. I couldn't believe it. And then we started scrambling, because we had Lionel Richie there but we had to move him from the other end of the field.''

Robin Chambless ''There were a lot of people upset that Lionel Richie closed our Jazz Fest. God love Lionel Richie, but that's not the person we would have chosen.''

Irma Thomas ''I could have closed out the festival, but instead they used Lionel Richie. That's okay [laughs]. I'm sure they've given some thought to that since.''

Jason Patterson, talent buyer, Snug Harbor jazz club ''They used to call this the Big Easy. I don't think that's an appropriate word anymore.''

Glen David Andrews, leader of traditional jazz band Glen David Andrews and the Lazy 6 ''I'm living in a FEMA trailer. F--- that bulls---. I hate the trailer. I hate it, I hate it. They got big plans for the Ninth Ward and they don't include black people, that's for sure.''

Fats Domino ''People all over the world love New Orleans. I love New Orleans. I'm still alive and kicking. I ain't intending to leave.''

With residents this strong speaking for New Orleans, I don't think we're in danger of losing the culture. But voting every day couldn't hurt.

And if you want to party like a rock star, please come to New Orleans on Aug. 24th for the NOMRF Anti-Versary concert. Mike Mills of REM has signed on to help us host a great roster of New Orleans bands.