Rebirth Brass Band, “Do Whatcha Wanna” (Mardi Gras Records)

Each record we did was by mistake. We had no plans. We would walk to the French Quarters and make up songs, play for tips every day after school, walk back from the French Quarters and make up songs, or sit around drinking beer at the second line making up songs. Totally spontaneous. We never sat down and said, ‘We need to do this for this record, or that for that record.’ When it was time to record, we’d just put together all the songs we hadn’t recorded yet.

We’d get a lot of dance response from people back in the Sixth Ward. We’d play one of those tunes and the crowd would react, scream, or holler. It made us do different riffs. Anything to have fun. We played a lot of stuff at the Glass House, at Ruth’s Cozy Corner. Then when it was studio time, we’d figured it all out without having a rehearsal. Sometimes we did rehearse, but for the most part all that stuff happening in front is what I call ‘good mistakes.’

We’d play second lines all the time, and there were three or four guys as we marched up the street—they’d be real close to us dancing to the point where our horns were about to ram our lips. We’d ask them to get the hell out the way and they would always reply, ‘I’m gonna do what I wanna.’ Those guys kept driving us. Maybe a year later, we were warming up for a gig and Phil [Frazier] started playing that old riff they use down in the Treme, and I just started saying ‘Do whatcha wanna,’ and before you know it, we were marching around the Sixth Ward playing that song all day long. It was right before we recorded with Milton Batiste. Probably an 8-track in a shed or small room in his house.

The song ‘Do Whatcha Wanna’ was number one on the countdown on one of the major radio stations every day for eight months or longer. We thought nothing of it. It took us a while to realize we needed to get a publishing company and collect. A lot of those late checks came years later thanks to Allison Miner managing Rebirth.

The biggest blessing ever was me and Phil Frazier to meet in 11th grade at Clark High School and form the Rebirth Brass Band. Me, him, and his little brother Keith. We listened to Olympia Brass Band and Dirty Dozen records day and night, and came up with Rebirth. That’s what we studied, as well as a lot of Louis Armstrong once we realized he was the king of everything.”