Keepin’ it funky with New Orleans’ brass band tradition

Rebirth Brass Band

Last night I had the fortune to see Rebirth Brass Band at The Mint in LA (an awesome roots-music venue if you ever are in town). Hot off their Grammy win for their album, Rebirth of New Orleans, it was a sold-out, standing-room only show. People who didn’t have a ticket were waiting outside, hoping to get in, and when I went outside for some air after dancing my tush off, they were still there! It was a raucous, rollin’ good time. At one point I looked out upon the crowd and it seemed no one was standing still. Some folks might not be familiar with the New Orleans style brass bands. This is what Wikipedia says about the history of this very unique sound:

“The tradition of brass bands in New Orleans, Louisiana dates to the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Traditionally, New Orleans brass bands could feature various instrumentation, often including trumpets, trombones, saxophones, sousaphones, and percussion. The music played by these groups was often a fusion between European-styled military band music and African folk music brought to the Americas by west African slaves and the idiom played a significant role in the development of traditional jazz…A well-known use of these bands is for the New Orleans jazz funeral…In the 1970s and 1980s, the New Orleans brass band tradition experienced a renaissance, with bands breaking away from traditional stylings and adding elements of funk, hip hop, and bop to their repertoires. Some notable exponents of this style of brass band include Soul Rebels Brass Band, Rebirth Brass Band, the Stooges Brass Band, the Hot 8 Brass Band, the Lil Rascals Brass Band, Youngblood Brass Band, and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band.”

It’s interesting because while I was lost in the endless groove, hypnotized by the funk, I heard this drum beat every so often that was so distinct to the rest of the rhythm, like an echo almost, and it reminded me of something ancient and familiar. It then hit me that I heard that sound in Cuban and Puerto Rican son music during the conga solo during an extended jam or descarga. It is so fascinating to try to comprehend and follow the journey of music and of cultures. Anyways, back to the brass bands of NOLA; a lot of these groups have been around over 20 years and are cultural mainstays in the Crescent City.

Here is a clip of Rebirth Brass Band doing one of their hits, “Do Watcha Wanna”:

Soul Rebels Brass Band has also been around for 20+ years and they incorporate a lot of hip-hop into their sound. Nice moves by the way!

Another band that has never failed me when I was in need of a funky good time is Dirty Dozen Brass Band. Here they are at Bonnaroo with their version of “Ain’t Nothing But A Party”:

So if one of these brass bands come to your town, do yourself a favor and git on down there for a good ole fashioned time and shake your booty, please! To help you, I have linked below to all the bands’ gig pages who were featured here.

Love, peace, and soul!

P.S. WordPress gives me the stats on my blog and lists all the countries that have visited this blog and there have been almost 80 countries in total who have clicked on my blog at one point or another! Shout out to you good folks in Europe, Africa, Asia, Latin America, Russia, the Middle East, Australia, New Zealand, and on and on. Wow, someone from Djibouti was interested in something on this site. Incredible! I’ll do my best to keep exploring the depths of culture and music and bring you what I find from your country and beyond!

Rebirth Brass Band
Soul Rebels Brass Band
Dirty Dozen Brass Band
The Mint in LA

New Orleans’ traditional jazz funeral

2 responses to “Keepin’ it funky with New Orleans’ brass band tradition”

  1. […] posted last month about the Rebirth Brass Band and other New Orleans style brass bands. One of longest running brass bands around is the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. I’ve seen them many […]


  2. […] Rebirth Brass Band is a true New Orleans institution. Formed in 1983 by the Frazier brothers, the band has evolved […]


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