Original Pinettes all-female brass band blasts French Quarter Fest 2015
Latest News | April 16, 2015
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Pinettes brass band blasts French Quarter Fest 2015
Watch as the Pinettes, New Orleans’ only all-female brass band brings their brand of fiery funk to French Quarter Fest 2015 on Saturday (April 11).
An afternoon squall temporarily silenced the music at the 2015 French Quarter Festival on Friday (April 10) afternoon. But when the rain stopped, the Original Pinettes Brass Band, wearing fluorescent tie-dyed T-shirts, rose like a rainbow on the outdoor Popeyes Stage near the Old U.S. Mint.
For more than an hour, the 11-piece ensemble bathed the grassy dance floor with pulsing brass music and upbeat chants, barely breaking between numbers.
The Pinettes are reputed to be New Orleans' only all-women brass band.
"It's an obvious fact when you see us; we are all females," bandleader and snare drummer Christie Jourdain said. But she added, the band members hope that fans can see, or hear, past the group's gender.
"We're actually musicians, so I think when we're performing, if you don't see us, you won't know that it's all females. That's how we want to be recognized, as musicians more than females."
Jourdain said that the members of other brass bands around town once viewed the Pinettes as a "cute" novelty, but over time they've come to be seen as friendly rivals.
During Friday's show, a young man handled bass drum duties. Members of the band explained that he was substituting for one of the regulars who was out on maternity leave. Applauds arose at the announcement.
The Original Pinettes bandleader and snare drummer Christie Jourdain at French Quarter Fest 2015 (Photo by Doug MacCash / NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)
Jourdain has been around from the beginning. She started out as an alternate drummer when the band was formed by St. Mary's Academy High School band instructor Jefferey Herbert in 1991. Herbert was a member of the Pinstripes brass band, hence the name Pinettes.
Jourdain said that she moved to Houston in the 1990s, but since her return in 2000, she's been a steady Pinettes fixture. Despite her natural shyness, she said that somewhere along the line she was recruited to be the band spokesperson.
In recent years, Jourdain said, the Pinettes roster has included young women from schools across the city, as well as St. Mary's:
"Now we have girls from (local high schools) McMain, NOCCA, McDonogh 35, Warren Easton; we have girls from (Xavier) Prep, we have them from Carver, we've had them pretty much from all over."
The Pinettes' set included a few crowd-pleasing brass band standards such as "Let's Go Get Em" and "Casanova," and a few tunes that seemed more dear to the band member's hearts, including the original call and response paean "Ain't No City (Like the One I'm From)," an original plea to send hatred and jealousy "to the moon" titled "Get a Life," and a warm rendition of Amy Winehouse's "Valerie."
As the band pumped, the French Quarter Fest crowd seemed to make up for time lost during the rain interruption. Gray-haired dancers spun and swayed with abandon. A mother bobbed with her baby in arms, his hearing protected by earphones. At the edge of the stage an athletic bounce dancer wriggled vertically, horizontally and diagonally. And on the balcony of a nearby Creole cottage, a mustachioed dancer grooved. Clouds threatened, but didn't release a drop during the Pinettes' show.
"You've got to realize, that's who we are performing for: the people," Jourdain said. "I don't care if it's two or two hundred; you have to perform like every day, every time. It doesn't matter what (how large the crowd) you have out there, you still have to put on an A-one show, just like we did for the French Quarter Fest. We didn't think we would get that crowd back. But guess what, they came back after the rain."