Mack Maine, Dawn Richard & More Talk “Treme”
Treme, the new series based on post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans, debuted last night on HBO.
The series takes place three months after Katrina, where residents of the working-class neighborhood of Treme (pronounced “truh-MAY”) try to rebuild their lives, their homes and their unique culture in the aftermath of the 2005 hurricane.
New Orleans natives Mack Maine (rapper/President, Young Money Entertainment), Dawn Richard (Dirty Money) and Yvahn Martin (Business Associate of DrJays.com’s sister site, DJPremium.com) shared their thoughts on Treme exclusively with DrJays.com Live.
What are your thoughts on a TV show trying to capture what New Orleans was REALLY like during such a devastating time?
Mack Maine: “As long as they capture the city right, and inform the people of what really is going on. As long as they depict it correctly, I have no qualms.”
Dawn Richard: “I think this was the best thing HBO has ever done. People sometimes forget too soon how hard it is to come back from something like that. I think it is so important that they are capturing the spirit of the people, the culture, and the lack of help we’ve gotten to fix our great city.”
Yvahn Martin: “On the one hand, no one except for the people who were still there in the aftermath of Katrina know what it was like to be there. I don’t think anyone can really estimate or recapture the astounding levels of chaos during that time, with the entire city in ruins: police, fire department, city halls, homes, property and personal records destroyed, people living in tents or in moldy homes that were about to fall down. This was before there were FEMA trailers, when people were only just starting to return from being evacuated and starting to clean out their homes and lives. There is no describing it or fictionalizing it. However the story needs to be told, and retold, and never forgotten, so that it will never happen again, but also so people won’t forget there is still major, major work to be done.”
Treme is named after the New Orleans neighborhood home to a number of musicians. As an artist from the city, how important was music in getting everyone back on their feet?
Mack Maine: “Music is real important to the heritage and culture. Jazz originated from us; it’s never died. We are very soulful people, the music motivates the people in our city. It’s our outlet. The music is in our blood.”
Dawn Richard: “Music is the heartbeat of New Orleans. It is the beat that keeps our city’s spirit alive. Music was an influential part, not only in the recovery of our city but the success of our city as well, from Kermit to Aaron Neville to Wynton Marsalis to my father Frank Richard. All these musical greats have contributed to making New Orleans a place of sound.”
Yvahn Martin: “Music is such a huge part of life in New Orleans, a livelihood for many, and an integral part of the culture. Many of the traditions more widely celebrated by tourists are only a small part of what goes on there every day, so for every Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest, there are hundreds of local festivals, music performances, cookouts, second lines, school band parades, jazz funerals and really for no reason at all you could find people playing music, kids practicing instruments, etc. Keeping the music going in New Orleans kept the people going in spite of the trauma and the stress of rebuilding.”
Do you feel the government, and American people in general, have forgotten New Orleans still needs help to this day?
Mack Maine: “F*ck the government. Uncle Sam never been to my family reunion, so fuck ‘em. It took three to four days to get us help. People came together for other countries, but looked New Orleans over. When [Treme's] cameras stop rolling, the ’cause and fight’ is no longer there for the people.”
Dawn Richard: “I think we sometimes forget because it isn’t happening to us. I don’t just think it’s New Orleans that’s been forgotten. Haiti, Chile, Africa, Argentina, Thailand–all these places that have been struck with disaster need help. I don’t see color or political status when it comes to helping. No matter who you are, where you work, or what color you are, we should never forget.”
Yvahn Martin: “Many times in the first two years after the storm I heard people remark, ‘Oh, we’re tired of hearing about New Orleans’ or ‘They always knew this was going to happen; this was their fault for living there’ or ‘They shouldn’t rebuild because it’s just going to happen again and it’s a wasted effort.’ But New Orleans is one of the richest cultural treasures America has, and because many people have never gone there and don’t have a direct connection, or feel like it’s just a place where poor people live or just a party town like Las Vegas, they simply don’t care. And that’s sad. As far as the government goes, the levees are still not rebuilt, and there are no plans to increase protection in the area from natural disasters; plans are just to build the levees back to the way they were, which is inadequate. For decades, New Orleans was not just known as the Big Easy, but as the City That Care Forgot. And the response and aftermath of Katrina has proven that we continue to live up to that unfortunate moniker.”
The show’s first episode aired last night. Were you watching?
Mack Maine: “Yes I was watching with a critical eye.”
Dawn Richard: “You know I was. I’m hoping next season I’m in it!”
Yvahn Martin: “While I’m glad they’re filming there and glad we will get more media exposure for the beautiful city of New Orleans, the whole experience of Katrina was very traumatic for me and I have no intention of reliving it. I lived in Treme in the year before the storm, lost everything in eight feet of water in my apartment and my entire family has relocated to various places across the country after having never lived anywhere else for generations – so it’s particularly painful for me to watch. I came to New York with a single suitcase and a dream, and I haven’t looked back since.”