Stooges Brass Band Brings Celebratory Spirit to Music Box Supper Club
Latest News | January 12, 2015
The Stooges Brass Band might operate in the shadow of other, more well-known New Orleans brass bands, but the group has created a significant legacy in its 18-year run. The band mixes hip-hop and New Orleans jazz into a style it calls "street music,” and it definitely lived up to that billing last night at Music Box Supper Club during a three-hour (with a 20-minute intermission show).
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By Jeff Niesel | January 12, 2015
Dressed casually in sneakers and jeans, band leader Walter Ramsey confessed he didn’t know how to dress appropriately for winter as the six-man ensemble gathered on stage. “We are the Stooges from New Orleans, y’all,” he said casually before laying down the ground rules for the concert. There would be “100 percent crowd participation” and every time the band said “hey,” audience members needed to throw their hands in the air. The rules didn’t need enforcing.
The show started with a bit of jump blues that featured a terrific woozy trumpet solo. It helped get the crowd warmed up for the first set’s signature song, “Wind It Up,” a tune for which the band has developed a unique dance that involves “winding up” as if to deliver a fastball pitch. The group divided the crowd into two halves to see which half of the room could master the dance moves.
The second set started with a birthday tribute to one of the concert’s patrons. The band started “Happy Birthday” with a simple trumpet solo but then expanded the tune into a full New Orleans-style brass band romp complete with tuba and trombone. “We want to take you back a little bit with us,” said Ramsey as the band launched into a cover of the Jackson Five’s “I Want You Back” that segued into Michael Jackson’s “Rock With You” and concluded with a version of Pharrell’s “Happy.” The group dedicated “Why Dey Had to Kill Him?” to a musician who was shot and killed by New Orleans police in 2004. Though the subject matter was rather sobering, especially considering the recent police shootings that have taken place, Ramsey didn’t let it change the concert’s festive mood. As he put at the second set’s start: “In New Orleans, we celebrate life. Even when we die, believe it or not, we celebrate.”
Last night’s concert had a great celebratory vibe to it, even if the music sometimes sounded distorted and the members were ultimately better at rapping than they were at singing.
The Dinerral Shavers Educational Fund has aimed to culturally enrich the lives and education of New Orleans youth since March 2007, just months after Dinerral Shavers, an iconic jazz drummer in the Hot 8 Brass Band, was murdered. Dinerral Shavers was an educator and band director at L.E. Rabouin High School, a New Orleans Civil Sheriff and an entrepreneur who wanted to help New Orleans youth.
DSEF has aimed to continue Dinerral Shavers’ mission of bettering the lives of New Orleans children by awarding them with opportunities via scholarship, education, music, culture and the arts in an effort to counter the culture of violence that is ever present in many New Orleans communities.
Because Shavers was a key component of the Hot 8 Brass Band, the group plays an integral role in the Blowout each year, headlining the show and bringing together many other New Orleans brass bands.
“We've been in just about every one the've had,” Sean Michael Roberts, lead trumpet player of To Be Continued Brass Band, said. “A lot of people come out for the foundation, and it’s a really good thing.”
In years past, DSEF’s Brass Band Blowout has drawn large and exuberant crowds, gaining great attention for both the bands involved and the cause they are playing for.
"Being a New Orleans musician, I pretty much know everybody who's playing music," Roberts said. "We have a good relationship; a lot of us are like brothers.
There's a lot of camaraderie that comes along with it, especially between us and the Hot 8 [Brass Band]."
These close musical relationships add to the passionate and creative performances at The Blowout and provide a truly entertaining show. Roberts said there is much collaboration between the bands, that To Be Continued has been inspired heavily by the music of Hot 8.
The event receives a huge amount of internal support, with Dinerral Shavers’ sister Nakita recruiting bands to play in the event each year.
With other performances by Free Agents Brass Band and Most Wanted Brass Band, as well as the New Orleans Mardis Gras Indians and T. Cherelle, the Blowout should bring great sounds, heavy crowds and good times once again.