In the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, New Yorkers have been trying to deal with the shock and sadness, while continuing with their everyday lives. Music is helping to heal wounded spirits.
As New York City recovers from the tragic events, people are slowly starting to return to the theaters and nightclubs. B.B. King's Blues Club is located in the very heart of the city, the famous Times Square district.
The Jon Paris Band performs several shows each month at the venue. A 25-year music business veteran, lead guitarist and singer Jon Paris is dealing with his grief and anger over the attacks by getting back on stage. He said, "We played here at B.B. King's Lounge the night after the tragedy. I was really not sure if that was the right thing to do or not, but people were coming up and saying, 'The music really helped us get through.' When you hear that, it's very encouraging. You start to feel like this is important to be doing this."
Jon Paris observes that, as music fans return to the clubs, they're striking up conversations with the people around them, and seem to be finding strength in each other. "The great thing about seeing a live musical experience is you're with other people," he said. "Groups of people come to hear a band or hear a performer. To share, brings hopefully a lot of comfort. When I'm in my apartment alone, just me and my guitar, and I'm thinking about the events of the world and what could turn out, it's pretty terrifying."
Israeli-born Assaf is the manager of B.B. King's Blues Club in New York. After the events of September 11, he suspended the regular admission charge, so New Yorkers could enter the club for free, relax and let the music help ease their pain. Judging from the rise in attendance, Assaf feels that, for most patrons, life is getting back to normal. "This city will never stop," he said, "even after this tragedy. It's hard for everybody, but we can't just stop our lives. We need to come back to the life, and we need to do whatever we feel like, because the democracy will win and we are free people. We don't need to surrender to terrorists. We need to live our life like we want to do, and that's it."
A regular performer at B.B. King's, bluesman Jon Paris admits he sometimes feels like a musical therapist. "The late, great John Lee Hooker, who I had the great fortune of meeting and jamming with, had an album, The Healer. If John Lee says music is the healer, we know it's got to be. There's this renewed spirit of patriotism in America, which is wonderful. God bless America. Amen. But God bless the world."
Although most clubs and entertainment venues in New York City closed their doors out of respect for the victims and their families just after the terrorist attacks, live music is again providing a soundtrack for the rebuilding and recovery.