The Big Easy: How Bankruptcy Can Mean Music to Your Ears. Skip to main content

You are here

The Big Easy: How Bankruptcy Can Mean Music to Your Ears.


In the new HBO series Treme, viewers follow the lives of New Orleans residents a mere three months following the physical, emotional and economic devastation of Hurricane Katrina. The cast of characters represents a cross-section of ordinary New Orleanians—from police to piano players—trying to rebuild their lives, their homes and their unique culture in the aftermath of the 2005 storm. Like a bellwether for our nation’s tough financial times, Treme captures the proverbial “perfect storm” that led to one city’s economic fallout, full of stark imagery of people losing everything and attempting to rise from the ashes in any way they can.

Prominently featured in this series are New Orleans musicians, a subgroup especially hit hard by the city’s downward spiral—a situation that increased crime, dropped tourism, and seemingly attempted to steal the heart and soul of the city: its music. In many scenes, we see these musicians desperately seeking gigs, moving on from traditional venues, and, in some cases, literally losing the tools of their trade: their prized musical instruments.

Unfortunately, the sights and sounds of Treme have become all-too-familiar in recent years in many parts of the country, with many inside and out of The Big Easy, finding it none-to-easy to keep their heads above water.  Like a devastating hurricane, a wave of financial difficulties can come quickly and unexpectedly, leaving average Americans wondering where they can turn for help.

For those who have been hardest hit in the working class—like Treme’s  musicians, teachers, and  restaurateurs—bankruptcy can provide the most effective way to pack back debts and pay it forward on the road to financial freedom. But, in some cases, bankruptcy seems like a quick ticket to losing personal property, a prospect that can seem difficult to those who rely on the aforementioned “tools” to continue their “trade.”

Take for example, the musicians featured in Treme. Whether you’re the show’s “Annie,” a savvy sidewalk violinist or a traditional trombonist like the character Antoine Baptiste, your instruments (or other personal property) are your lifeblood. As such, many worry that bankruptcy means losing your stuff, including expensive instruments, and, in turn, losing your livelihood.

But bankruptcy isn’t necessarily the legal equivalent of singing the blues. In reality, rather than the court striking the chord to carrying away all of your possessions like a legally-sanctioned storm, you are in fact legally entitled to claim much of your property as exempt. This can include cars, furniture, and even your precious musical instruments.

In fact, under bankruptcy law in many states, you can claim musical instruments and equipment as a component of your "household items.” And, if you are a professional or semi-professional musician, you may claim a certain amount of equipment as necessary for your occupation.

But, of course all of this depends on the particulars of your unique situation.  From New Orleans to Northern California to New York, bankruptcy can affect people of all backgrounds and walks of life, in many different way. As a result, many need to turn to the assistance of an experienced bankruptcy attorney to hit the right note as they play for a better financial future.

As a result, if you’re an average working class American looking to hold on to your priceless personal property, knowing a qualified bankruptcy attorney can yield the right kinds of support, information and insights—at a low cost. The bankruptcy experts at the Law Offices of John T. Orcutt offer a totally FREE debt consultation and now, more than ever, it’s time to take them up on their offer. Just call toll free to +1-919-646-2654, or during the off hours, you can make your own appointment right online at Simply click on the yellow “FREE Consultation Now” button.

Debts Hurt! Got debt? Need help? Get started below!

What North Carolina County Do You Reside In?