Sunday nights at the Blue Nile have been a long-running regular set for the To Be Continued Brass Band (also known as the TBC Brass Band), who are one of New Orleans’ premiere brass bands. 2014 has been a stellar year for the band so far, as they just recently performed with the legendary Wailers tag the House of Blues, and at Jazz Fest. Even more impressive is the fact that, unlike many New Orleans brass bands these days, the TBC never uses the expedient of replacing the snare and bass drums with a set drummer, or of adding electric bass or guitar to the band when indoors. The combination of authenticity and youthful street swagger is what makes the TBC Band unique. Unfortunately, with Sunday evening being a holiday evening, the Blue Nile was filled far beyond the usual crowd level on a Sunday, and there was heavy drinking going on. Although the band was great as always, I soon found myself being bumped, then pushed, then showered with liquor from people around me trying to dance or second-line while they had cups in their hands. Working my way back from the stage didn’t work, because the place was filled far beyond capacity, so reluctantly I cut my losses and left.
Of course, the highlight of the night for me was getting to see my absolute favorite New Orleans brass band, the TBC Brass Band at the Blue Nile on Frenchmen Street. These young men, most of them from the 9th Ward, had only recently come together prior to Hurricane Katrina, and for a time it seemed that the storm might have brought the band’s brief existence to an end, with members scattered to other cities. But the To Be Continued Brass Band beat the odds and came back together in New Orleans, and is a group that brings a rough, defiant, hip-hop attitude to the world of brass band music. So I was somewhat amazed to hear them start their Blue Nile set with a couple of tunes from the traditional brass band and jazz repertoire, something I had never heard them do before. Their reading of “I Found A New Baby” was joyful, upbeat and flawless, with a skill that belies their youth, and was a tribute to their versatility as a band. Eventually the set moved into their usual more contemporary material, but I left at the end of their show with a whole new respect for the TBC’s musicianship.
The TBC Brass Band performs one of their signature songs at the Blue Nile on Frenchmen Street on Sunday night, 5/26/13
The TBC Brass Band performs the Staple Singers’ “I’ll Take You There” at the Blue Nile on Frenchmen Street, 5/26/13
A guest drummer takes a solo with the Mainline Brass Band at the Blue Nile on Frenchmen Street in New Orleans, January 6, 2013
Mainline Brass Band’s drummer Jamal Watson takes a solo at the Blue Nile in New Orleans, January 6, 2013
After I got to New Orleans, got checked into my room and had dinner at Copeland’s Cheesecake Bistro, my friend Edward Jackson of the TBC Brass Band invited me to the Blue Nile to check out a band called the Mainline Brass Band, which is comprised of members of the Soul Rebels, TBC and other brass bands. They put on an amazing show, and I was especially impressed with their drummer Jermal Watson. Like them on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/mainlinenola