My Americorps team has been ensconced in New Orleans for the past few weeks. We started out tearing down Camp Hope 2 out in St. Bernard parish and moving it to Camp Hope 3. I got to sledgehammer down some walls and rip out toilets and shower stalls. We were all sleeping on cots in one big room along with another Americorps team from Denver (making a total of 18), except for Mr. Americorps, who claimed the closet and moved his cot into there. Once Camp Hope 2 was closed, we moved to a Habitat house and we’ve been working with HfH in New Orleans East ever since. The houses we’ve been working on are mostly done already, so we’ve been doing trim work, painting, shingling, that sort of thing.
Perhaps our most unusual experience to date has been volunteering at the Domino Effect concert on May 30. It was a benefit concert to raise money for New Orleans children’s programs, and the headliners were Little Richard, B.B. King, and Chuck Berry. I thought, oh we’ll go work for a couple of hours, see the headliners, then go home. Oh hell naw.
So we got there, went backstage, and meet our contact, Shelly. We went out and ushered a bit and all that sort of thing. Little Richard was brought onstage in his wheelchair and propped up in front of his piano. He’s ancient but did the whole show flawlessly. It’s always been a dream of mine to see B.B. King live, so I was thrilled to see him, too. Chuck Berry can suck a fat one. He’s the only performer who made them pay him to be there, and he yelled at a cameraman and threatened to stop the show if the guy didn’t get off the stage.
Then Keb Mo performed, and I was blown away because I didn’t really know anything about him. He sang a love song about how “you don’t even have to shave your legs” and I started crying, because I’m 24-years-old and I already know no one will ever say anything like that to me. Him and Taj Mahal performed together, and then Wyclef Jean came onstage, and that’s where things got crazy.
By then, the Americorps folks were all front row. We were jumping up and down, dancing, screaming, waving our arms. Wyclef comes over and climbs on the speakers in front of us, and one of the Americorps guys from another team, who’s standing right next to me, reaches up and hands Wyclef an Americorps fan. Wyclef takes the fan and starts dancing and singing while waving it. We go ape-shit because it’s Wyclef Jean holding our Americorps fan. After his set me and Baked Ziti cajoled a roadie into retrieving the fan, and then Shelly took us and Boss Hogg backstage where we caught up with Tracy Morgan from SNL and Wyclef and got them to sign our stuff. Wyclef was so nice and he apologized for not being able to talk because his voice was out.
Returning outside, we caught Ozomatli’s performance, which was freaking amazing; they got everyone to come down into the VIP section, then got out into the crowd and let people play their instruments. By then it was past 1 am, and we collected our t-shirts and slunk back to our SPIKE housing.
Tomorrow, for our Service Day Event, we’re working with the CWM Foundation. They’re putting on a benefit fashion show to raise money for scholarships for low-income college students. Some of us will be handing out free water bottles and others will be wrangling shoes for the models and such. Should be fun.