Henry Butler

Katrina swamped his life, but music keeps this jazzman afloat.

"I needed a place when I wasn't working to self-reflect, to meditate and to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder," he says. "Like most people, I had it -- I had it pretty seriously. And if I was going to do some crying, I wanted to do it in a place where nobody could see it."

His ordeal didn't end once the apartment was his, however. Unlike many Katrina victims, he had flood insurance, but it had a $100,000 cap that didn't begin to cover what he'd lost. He had other insurance as well, but that company didn't rush to make him whole. He's presently suing the firm and hopes for a settlement in another year or two. And then there's the matter of his mortgage. No bills related to his house reached him for two months after Katrina, and by the time he called the bank to inquire about their absence, he'd already been reported as delinquent. It was his responsibility to mail his payments whether a bill arrived or not, a rep told him, since the bank only sends them out as a "courtesy." Butler made good on the debt, but his credit rating took a mighty blow from which it has not yet recovered.

To Butler, these problems can be traced directly to Katrina, and the fact that he and others are dealing with them so long after the skies cleared strikes him as an indictment of the entire system. "By the time the masses realize what's happened to them, it's going to be late in the game," he allows. "It's time to stand up, to rebel, to not only make a statement, but to take action."

Henry Butler finds the keys to happiness.
Henry Butler finds the keys to happiness.

With so much left unresolved, Butler is eager to put down more permanent roots. His eviction date was upon him when he found a place in Denver -- and once he settles in, he hopes he won't have to relocate again anytime soon. Meanwhile, he has offers to record from two labels, "but I just haven't been of the mind to go into the studio," he says. "I haven't had time to really think about creating anything except impulsively, when I'm performing. Believe me, it's therapeutic, man. At least I can get a release there; I can have fun.

"I don't expect anyone to understand what I'm going through, or what any of the evacuees are going through," he admits. "We're all doing the best we can with the resources we have. I've been fortunate from time to time to get a little help from my friends and fans, and that's appreciated. You take those good things when they come, and you keep moving."

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