Stooges Brass Band ready to engage
Latest News | February 4, 2015
There have been countless instances of kids heading to a garage with guitars and drums with musical glory in mind. For those growing up in New Orleans, the dream can be just as clear, though it might incorporate a little more brass.
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In 1996, members of what was to become Stooges Brass Band answered that calling when they were teens. “We were from two rival school marching bands, four from each school, when we came together as the Stooges,” said bandleader and founding member Walter Ramsey, speaking from New Orleans. “Some of the guys went to junior high school together, and two of the guys from the rival schools lived on the same block, and we used to rehearse on the same block.”
With guitar, keyboards and drum augmenting their brass, Stooges Brass Band has developed a sound that blends elements of R&B, rock and hip-hop with their New Orleans underpinning. Instrumentalist Andrew Baham acknowledged inspiration by earlier bands that ultimately led to something they could call their own.
“When we first started, all we wanted to do was play what our big brothers were playing: the Rebirth Brass Band, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band,” Baham recalled. “We started playing around with the music, incorporating hip-hop into the fold. Somewhere along the line, it stopped being their influence and became ours.”
Baham said the inclusion of additional instruments played a critical part in the group’s creative growth. When the group began, “... our influence was the original Dirty Dozen Brass Band, which was the original setup. Now that you have those other instruments, it gives you a bigger palette to experiment and do some of the music you want to do and still have the same vibe and the essence that we had when we were in the streets, doing parades and things like that.”
Stooges Brass Band’s winning of the 2010 Red Bull Street Kings competition was featured in a 2011 documentary on the Documentary Channel and, in 2012, they were chosen by the U.S. State Department to tour Pakistan as cultural ambassadors. In addition to touring and appearances at numerous festivals (including Bonnaroo in 2012), the band has issued live CDs and a vinyl album called “Street Kings.” A follow-up to their latest release, “It’s About Time,” is planned for this spring.
For those who didn’t catch the band’s last Richmond stop, Baham enthusiastically explained that not only will a good time be had by all, but that all will take part in the proceedings.
“We are engaged with you. You are actually going to be part of the show. You’re going to dance. You’re going to have fun. You’re probably going to sing some of the songs with us. It’s just going to be a burst of energy for about two hours. A lot of energy.”