Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Brass Roots News: 3/28/11

March 28, 2011

The Soul Rebels Brass Band plays a rare second line on Super Sunday 2010

Happy Monday Brass Roots fans! We’re here to tell you some amazing news!

Brass Roots has been approved for and will be launching a fund-raising campaign through to finish our documentary!

That’s right, starting on April 1st (this Friday!) we’re going be taking donations in the hopes of reaching our $20,000 goal to finish our documentary by September and have it sent out to film festivals across the country.

Why $20,000? Because we’ve already put in over 18 months and thousands of dollars of our own money into this project and we’re on the cusp of finishing our filming. The money will go to help us travel with some of the bands, fund research (purchasing archived footage and photographs) and pay for a professional narrator.

Most importantly, the money will ensure that this unprecedented documentary will be done in time for the possibility of being entered into the 2012 Film Festival circuit. We want the world to experience the unbridled joy of listening to brass band music and to learn about the amazing people that play the instruments and Kickstarter is just what we need to accomplish our goals.

So spread the word! The Brass Roots Kickstarter campaign will launch April 1st and will run for the entire month. If we raise more than our goal, we get it all, but if we don’t reach $20,000, we get nothing. It’s as simple as that, please help make sure that this project can be finished.

We’ll have even more details as the week progresses and we launch our campaign. For now, check out all the great brass bands you can see live across the country!


Brass Roots News: 3/21/11

March 21, 2011

The Baby Boyz brass band performs a set. Click image to download as a desktop wallpaper.

Hey Brass Roots fans, we hope you had a happy Super Sunday yesterday! We know we did as all the Mardi Gras Indians we saw were looking super pretty, including none other than Stafford Agee of the Rebirth Brass Band who masked as a Spy Boy for the Black Feathers!

We had a chance to film his suit as he walked into A.L. Davis Park in Central City with his tribe and we’re going to be integrating that, along with footage of him talking about his suit and the Indians, into the documentary to show how these musicians are part of a greater New Orleans culture beyond music. Stay tuned for that video!

Now, without further ado, hit the jump for this week’s schedule of brass band shows!

Stafford Agee of the Rebirth Brass Band masks with the Black Feathers on Super Sunday 2011


Video: Tulane Prof. Matt Sakakeeny

March 18, 2011

While Brass Roots seeks to be the definitive oral history of brass band music told by the musicians that play it, we are also on a mission to talk to as many scholars of the music as possible to bring an academic perspective to the rich and engrossing history of New Orleans Brass Bands.

Two weeks ago, we talked to the preeminent academic in New Orleans on brass bands: Tulane Professor Matt Sakakeeny. Prof. Sakakeeny has written a slew of articles on the role of brass band music in the greater cultural and racial dynamics of New Orleans.

Check out this quick video from clips with our interview with Prof. Sakakeeny as he talks about the evolving form of brass band music and its meaning in post-Katrina New Orleans.

Photos: Brass-A-Holics play halftime at the Hive

March 17, 2011

Brass band music continues to evolve in New Orleans even as we make this film. Just over a year ago, Winston Turner was the trombone player with the Soul Rebels. Now he’s successfully leading his own band, the Brass-A-Holics, which recently played the halftime at a New Orleans Hornets game at the New Orleans Arena.

Turner took the modern edge from the Soul Rebels and went a step further, adding a sit-down drummer and electric guitarist to group. Really, it’s a throw back to the Dirty Dozen, but the Brass-A-Holics are hitting the streets of New Orleans hard with original beats, lyrics and compositions.

It should be noted that this isn’t the entire Brass-A-Holics band and that they usually play with a keyboard player and congas which skew the band’s sound into what they call “Gogo Brass Funk”. But whether playing traditional brass band tunes or pushing the genre to new heights, this band brings energy and drive to every performance.

Joining the Brass-A-Holics at “the Hive” was none other than Mr. Second Line himself: Darryl “Dancing Man 504″ Young. Together they put on a great show and here are some pictures taken from it.

Brass Roots News: 3/14/11

March 14, 2011

Hey Brass Roots fans, we’re back! That’s right, after a short sabbatical in observance of Mardi Gras, we’ve returned in full force with all kinds of exciting news about our documentary.

First of all, if you haven’t taken six minutes out of your day to check out our time lapse of the incredibly epic Rebirth Brass Band and Papa Grows Funk show we filmed at on March 5 at the Howlin Wolf, what are you waiting for? Click play on the video above and jam out to brand new music by the Rebirth Brass Band!

Secondly, we have all sorts of exciting announcements coming up in the next few days, none more important than this:

Brass Roots has been accepted to Kickstarter! This actually happened a few weeks ago but with all the filming we had to do, we haven’t had a chance to focus our efforts on it.

Well, now that we’re finished with our Mardi Gras filming, we wanted to make the official announcement that we will be launching a Kickstarter donation drive at the beginning of April in order to acquire the funds we need to finish production on Brass Roots. Stay tuned on our blog, Facebook or Twitter for upcoming announcements and instructions on how you can donate to our project.

Other notes:

After filming at the Maple Leaf and Howlin Wolf, we’re pleased to announce that we’ve completed our concert filming of the Rebirth Brass Band. What this means is that we’re moving on to the next band and we’ll be announcing a new set of concerts we’ll be filming in the near future, so stay tuned for that!

Lastly, we’d like to announce the return of the brass band concert calendar. With Mardi Gras out of the way, there won’t be anything stopping us from passing on the latest brass band tour dates and concerts from across the country. Hit the jump to check out this week’s schedule and keep supporting Brass Roots!

Brass Band Highlight: The Soul Rebels

March 1, 2011

The Soul Rebels were the first brass band we had the honor of interviewing for Brass Roots and continues to be a band that we hold dear (we spent New Year’s Eve with them, after all). More importantly, they have been arguably the most influential brass band when it comes to how the music has evolved in the mid-to-late 1990s and in this first decade of the 21st century.

Founded by Lumar Leblanc and Derrick Moss, the Soul Rebels have constantly toed the line between traditional and innovative. They started off as part of Harold DeJean’s Young Olympia Brass Band, marching in the streets and playing classic New Orleans music, and then branched off into the brass band/funk/soul/R&B/hip-hop hybrid that we see today.

This is a band that caused a stir when they released an album titled “No More Parades“, an explicit break from tradition in an effort to establish themselves as a touring and stage band. Of course, that couldn’t separate them from their roots completely as the Soul Rebels marched in their first second line in nearly a decade at Super Sunday in 2010.

The Soul Rebels are also not content with staying within any sort of genre. Their 2005 album “Rebelution” contains everything from synthesized beats to electronic funk and combines it with the powerful horns of the front line and incessant rhythms of LeBlanc and Moss on the back line.

More than anything, the Soul Rebels stay true to their signature song “Let Your Mind Be Free”, an expansive and almost epic brass band song that merges traditional rhythms with a modern attitude and a dash of positive, inspirational rap. A song that became an instant classic (which you can hear the band perform at the end of the video above), it quickly became a staple of second lines and a tune no self-respecting New Orleans musician can afford not to know.

In many ways, the Soul Rebels represent the most modern form brass bands have taken on and, in many ways, they still stay true to traditional New Orleans music (their version of St. James Infirmary is absolutely killer, though chances are you’ll only hear them play it live during Mardi Gras). In that sense, the Soul Rebels are the epitome of modern brass band music.

Buy their music on Amazon or iTunes.

Brass Roots News: 2/28/2011

February 28, 2011

The Stooges Brass Band performs a second line on Super Sunday 2010 (Click to download as desktop wallpaper)

Happy Monday everyone! We just survived our first weekend of Mardi Gras, how about you? With parades gearing up to start again this Wednesday, we can’t wait to get on with the festivities. So how does Brass Roots plan on celebrating Mardi Gras? With a music video of course!

Stay tuned this week as our regularly scheduled Friday video will feature the Rebirth Brass Band performing the Mardi Gras classic “Big Chief”. For those of you who don’t know, “Big Chief” was written by Earl King in the early 1960s and made famous by New Orleans music legend Professor Longhair.

The song refers to, of course, the Mardi Gras Indians and their tradition of masking on Mardi Gras day. It also just happens to be a funkin’ good tune and one that we can say with all certainty that Rebirth absolutely KILLED IT when we filmed them at the Maple Leaf.

The standard bearer, though, will always be Dr. John performing the song live with Professor Longhair. If our video is half as good as this one, we’ll be pretty pumped:

That’s it for us this week. We have a lot of prepping to do for round two of filming the Rebirth Brass Band, this week at the Howlin Wolf. In the meantime, check out all the great brass band shows happening from now until Bacchus Sunday. Happy Mardi Gras everyone!


Brass Band Album of the Week: Treme’s “Gimme My Money Back”

February 23, 2011

The Treme Brass Band's "Give Me My Money Back" shows age isn't a factor when it comes to influential brass bands

This may come as a surprise to some, but the Treme Brass Band is actually a relatively new band despite having members that are among living legends in New Orleans music. Formed in the mid-80s by snare drummer Benny Jones and base drummer Lionel Batiste, the Treme is the band to see if you want to see classic New Orleans brass band music with a slight twist.

“Gimme My Money Back”, released in 1994, is the epitome of Treme’s sound. They hit you first with the title track that has become the band’s anthem – a classic, swinging tune integrated with contemporary song-writing and urban style. Rather than conform to the old styles that they’re most associated with, Jones and Batiste have led their band to push their music forward.

Really, though, it should come as no surprise. Jones also founded the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and has lived his whole life playing progressive music. A flexible lineup that frequently features experienced musicians — Kermit Ruffins, Kirk Joseph and Gregory Davis have all played with Treme — with a history of innovation but roots in traditional style, Treme serves as a living chronicle of how classic and modern styles have reconciled in New Orleans.

“Gimme My Money Back” runs the gamut from funeral dirges to blues stand-byes but stays within a sort of modern-classic sound that the Treme have cultivated over the years. Purchase the album here and you can catch them live every Wednesday at the Candlelight Lounge in – where else? – the Treme.

Brass Roots News: 2/21/11

February 22, 2011

The Free Agents Brass Band plays at the Howlin Wolf in New Orleans. (Click for desktop wallpaper).

Hey Brass Roots fans! We hope y’all enjoyed your President’s Day weekend. We’re sad to say that a slight travel snafu over the weekend has made us late with our weekly update, but we promise it was worth the wait.

First of all, have you checked out the time-lapse of us filming the Rebirth Brass Band at the Maple Leaf last Tuesday? If you have haven’t take a moment to check it out, the video spans about four hours and includes a live track of the band recorded that night!

In other news, we completed interviews with Bruce Raeburn, the curator of Tulane’s Hogan Jazz Archive, and Matt Sakakeeny, a professor of New Orleans music at Tulane. If you thought that New Orleans brass bands were just about second lines and jazz funerals, you got another thing coming. Both Raeburn and Sakakeeny confirmed our suspicions that brass bands and the culture surrounding them are an integral part of the makeup of the city and reflect the Big Easy’s mood, culture and people better than anything else out there.

We can’t wait to give y’all a small preview of those interviews. Right now, though, we got loads more shoots to plan and videos to edit together (and not to mention that Mardi Gras season is well under way). It’s an exciting time to live in New Orleans!

That’s it for now, don’t forget to check out all the live brass band shows coming out this week by hitting the jump:


VIDEO: Rebirth at Maple Leaf Time Lapse

February 18, 2011

As we noted several times, we had the distinct pleasure of filming and recording the Rebirth Brass Band at the Maple Leaf this past Tuesday. In attendance was Frenchy, the Boston-born, New Orleans-based artist we interviewed back in 2009 and who’s made his name for making live portraits of musicians.

Our audio engineer, Michael Seaman, set up a time lapse to shoot from just before the band arrived through the first song and then he pointed the camera at Frenchy, who was painting a live portrait of the concert.

The audio you’re hearing is a preliminary, rough mix of the music we recorded from that evening. Michael hasn’t had a chance to really go through it all (he recorded every individual player as well as propping up room mics and stage mics) but we’re very excited with how it came out.

Last thing: Immediately after the show, tuba player Phil Frazier came over to Michael and asked to hear the uncompressed mix off of Pro Tools. After listening to the music for a couple seconds, he exclaimed “Is this the Rebirth? …God damn, that’s outstanding!”

Enjoy the video.