Some of New Orleans’ greatest music doesn’t come from inside the clubs; it comes from the street. On October 23 at 2 p.m. underneath the Claiborne overpass, Red Bull will host Red Bull Street Kings Brass Band Blowout, a competition between four local brass bands that will, according to organizers, “be a showcase and platform for the next generation of brass bands influenced by the rich musical legacy of the New Orleans streets.” The bands will compete for a three-day trip to Los Angeles to record in the Red Bull Studio.
One band competing is the Free Agents Brass Band. Ellis “EJo” Joseph formed the band of musical “free agents” one month after Hurricane Katrina, and they combine brass traditions with new funk. They’re respected in the musical community for their musicianship and energetic performances.
Another competitor is the Stooges Brass Band. Formed in 1996 by graduates of the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, the Stooges blend 19th Century brass band traditions with modern hip-hop. They have performed with Jessica Simpson and Jadakiss, and they performed for Barack Obama when he was running for Senate.
Also competing is the To Be Continued Brass Band (TBC), a group that formed and started playing in the French Quarter while its members were in high school. It’s the youngest band in the competition, and it released its first album, Modern Times, earlier this year. After the storm in 2005, the group had rehearsals at the home of Efrem Towns of Dirty Dozen Brass Band. Older musicians would stop by for jam sessions and teach TBC about New Orleans jazz traditions.
The Soul Rebels Brass Band will also vie for the prize. The Soul Rebels emerged from the Young Olympia Brass Band and took brass band traditions and incorporated R&B, funk, and hip-hop, most notably through half-sung, half-rapped lyrics. The band has performed worldwide and was featured in an episode of Treme, performing “Drinka Little Poison (4 U Die)” in Le Bon Temps Roule with John Mooney in Le Bon Temps Roule.
The event will be hosted by Glen David Andrews, a brass band classicist who cut his musical teeth in Jackson Square with Tuba Fats.
Each band will play at least one traditional brass band standard along with original songs of their choice. Performances will be judged by a panel that will be looking for presentation, musicality, innovation, energy and material.
For more information, visit RedBullUsa.com.