By Lindsey Lowe Osborne
You guys have to make me a promise, OK? Here’s the deal: The Rebirth Brass Band is coming (Nov. 19 at Saturn), and I need all of you to show them the Magic City knows how to dance. I mean, put your heart into it. Throw your back out. If you’ve got a groove thing, make sure you grab it before you leave the house. Because these fellas are coming from New Orleans, where, as lead trumpet player Chadrick Honore put it, “we naturally add our own flavor to anyone’s music to feel the groove more.”
Rebirth was born in 1983, founded by tuba/sousaphone player Philip Frazier, his brother bass drummer Keith Frazier, trumpeter Kermit Ruffins, and others. Since then, it has continued to evolve, growing and shifting with new members. “Rebirth Brass Band started in high school for an event, but [the members] were too young to go in and perform, so they decided to go down to the Quarters and play for tips, which led to gigs around town like weddings, funerals, birthday parties, second lines, etc.,” explains Honore, who joined the band a decade ago. “Eventually, the band would begin to travel the country and around the world. No place too big, no place too small for the birth. I started following Rebirth at the second lines in New Orleans, and I wanted to join the band ever since. Starting out with the Stooges Brass Band, I built a core of songs and experience playing with other bands. I got a call from Phil asking me to join the band and the rest is history.”
Honore says that brass music is something special, and he’s right. Music on its own has the ability to make you feel and move and, yes, shake your groove thing, but brass music adds an even deeper layer. And Rebirth does brass really, really well. In fact, they won a Grammy in 2012 for Best Regional Roots Music Album. And Rebirth’s history contributes to the richness of its music.
“The Rebirth Brass Band music moves you with energy, charisma, and character. The music itself is so captivating and infectious with jazz, funk, and soul,” Honore says. “So many musical souls have been through this band, you can still hear it in today’s rebirth band. I think listeners connect by freeing themselves, dancing, just having a great time. You can feel the energy from the band and the crowd—it’s an amazing experience. The music is always moving and taking you to different places. The only complaint I’ve had since joining the band 10 years ago is, ‘I wish you guys played longer.’”
“Rebirth music continues to evolve throughout the different band members and with time,” he continues. “Easily going back and forth between traditional brass band and contemporary, we are now evolving into a more modern style incorporating pedals, with our horns creating another vibe that’s giving us another dimension to tap into. We’re also taking a more lyrical approach to the music to keep it moving.”
Rebirth is one of hundreds of brass bands that have come out of the rich brass tradition in New Orleans. “New Orleans is the biggest part of what we do,” Honore says. “Brass bands started here more than 100 years ago. New Orleans has supported and pushed this culture since birth. Without New Orleans, there wouldn’t be any tradition or backbone for brass band music. In New Orleans, music is a way of life for just about everyone.”
So Birmingham, let’s show these guys that we can dance, too, OK? Let’s give ’em a hearty welcome and something to write home about. Promise.
11/25: Moon Taxi at the Alabama Theatre.For fans of Fitz and the Tantrums and The Weeks.
12/6: Cracker at Saturn. For fans of Dada and Matthew Sweet.
12/28: Gillian Welch at the Lyric Theatre. For fans of Lucinda Williams and Steve Earle.