Before Katrina hit, Smith had been planning to go the Superdome and wait out the storm.
“I got out the morning of,” he said. “My family told me not to stay, that I needed to get out.”
He traveled to Houston with 20 other people “in a caravan,” he said. “We had 20 of us and nobody had any money. Twenty of us in two rooms.”
They then moved to Baytown, Texas, where there were cots to sleep in, but this arrangement had to be abandoned when Hurricane Rita hit a month later.
The exodus continued until a musical acquaintance from Manchester, Nat Simpson, suggested that Smith come to Massachusetts.
Smith has found a home in Gloucester, and the band he started here plays around the region, including a regular gig at Darryl’s Corner Bar and Kitchen in Boston.
Other musicians like Neville, who also moved to Massachusetts from New Orleans, have joined Smith in re-creating the sound he fostered as a performer and DJ in his native town.
Doucette mentions the gratitude that people in New Orleans often extend to teenagers from the Y, and it is echoed in Smith’s desire to help the program with his music.
“This is our third fundraiser at the Y,” he said. “I’ve been fortunate to be involved with this.”
IF YOU GO ... What: New Orleans Mardi Gras Concert When: Friday, Feb. 8, 7:30 p.m. Where: Larcom Theatre, 13 Wallis St., Beverly To benefit: YMCA teens' service trip to New Orleans Tickets & information: $20 in advance ($15 for people over 65 or under 18); $25 at the door for all ages. Available at many North Shore YMCA offices, online at www.gimmelive.tv, or by phone at 978-525-9093.