Rebirth Brass Band
Rebirth of New Orleans
Basin Street Records
In New Orleans a few years ago, I wandered into a record store and asked the guy behind the counter for some local recommendations. After a few preliminary questions to make sure I wasn't a complete goober, he slaps open a CD player, sticks in a disc and goes, "THIS." It was Main Event: Live at the Maple Leaf, the 1999 album from the Rebirth Brass Band. When he turned it up, the room began to shake. I was hooked. It led me into the infectious world of New Orleans brass bands, second-line, and the art of the party. So when I hear the band is releasing its 14th album, Rebirth of New Orleans, I'm on that like white on a plate of rice and beans in the Quarter.
Rebirth Brass Band hasn't strayed far from the sound that was born during a high school summer band camp in 1983; still led by the Frazier brothers, and still channeling the historic NOLA "social club" bands such as the Eureka or Olympic Brass Band. They might have made it to HBO's Treme, but they haven't gone showbiz. Not that there's anything wrong with a band evolving into something new, like city-mates the Dirty Dozen, who largely dropped the "Brass Band" part and now tour with The Black Crowes and such. But to a city so rich in history and tradition as is New Orleans, it's vital to keep its art and personality alive. You can't wash away the spirit of this great American city, and on Rebirth of New Orleans, Rebirth Brass Band keeps the sound and the history alive. On a record like this, you don't call out single songs for attention. This is party music. So ice some Abitas, roll back the rugs... and dance your ass off. It's what the Rebirth Brass Band is doing this very moment, I betcha.
For a great look at Rebirth and the New Orleans second-line scene, check out Let Me Do My Thang: Rebirth Brass Band from 2000. Rockin'.