If one show can encompass all of what makes New Orleans great, I think I experienced it this past Saturday night and kept with it into Sunday morning.
I didn't know if I was going to be able to be there, but I was sure going to try. Riding on what was still Pacific time for me, I managed to head over to the Howlin' Wolf, grabbed a beer, and found my friends close to the front of the stage, where Rebirth was about to get started. It was early yet, but the Rebirth kicked it off right and my dancing feet couldn't resist. Shout outs were given to Derrick Tabb on his work with the Roots of Music and the recognition he got as a CNN Heroes finalist.
We rolled with the Free Agents and the We Are One and didn't even stop in the breaks, when the sound guys played deejay and kept some soul and hip-hop going as pictures of the kids who were benefiting from the Educational Fund's programs were projected on a wall nearby. The pace picked up even more when the Pinettes were announced and the women showed how much they could bring it. The crowd had grown a great deal more by then and everybody, no matter who they were, no matter their color, sex, or dress, was getting into it. The Pinettes announced a song that they were playing for the Saints and the crowd went nuts. Just before the next band came on, the sound guys threw on some Halftime and the place went even crazier. "Just keep believin'! Believe in our Saints," the Pinettes' sax player had said after their Saints' song. They could have just as easily been talking about our small-s saints we encounter 'round here on a regular basis. You know who you are.
The transcendent moment, however, came when these guys took to the stage:
There's a reason why they are one of the premier bands out there on the second lines these days, not to mention why they are filled with enough confidence and chutzpah to be challenging Rebirth in recent weeks. The Stooges whipped the crowd into a frenzy that almost couldn't be contained - in fact, it carried over into the performance of To Be Continued, where one girl who had been showing us all how it was done down in front for the Stooges pulled out even more moves for the TBC in her killer boots and slinky dress, then grudgingly yielded to the Stooges' trumpeter and another guy stepping out at each other and kicked 'em both a little with one divine shoe as if to say have your fun, babies, but don't go playing with the one who invented it.*
It was announced on the stage that the emcee had learned, via Twitter, that Ed Murray had dropped out of the mayor's race. Sadly, shortly before the Hot 8 came on, my right knee let me know that it had dropped out from above my dancing feet. I had to take the first part of their set sitting in a chair and bobbing to the music before my internal PST clock told me it was time to head home.
Can't think of a better way to help commemorate the dearly departed, aside from bringing the crime rate way, way, waaaay down in this city. After all this time, we are still hurting, but we will not go quietly. Whatever deity might be out there will be getting one brassy kaddish coming up from our numbers quite regularly. Magnified and sanctified will be the names of the fallen with every note played and every beat in time.
And amen to that.
*same thing could well be said about me in the face of all of Big Red's stellar missives on the second lines over at the BoNO. Go read 'em. Now.
More snippets of Brass Band Blowout goodness can be viewed here.