Here is a document of brass band music in 2013. With urgent second line momentum and 808-esque rim shots and cowbells, To Be Continued’s new album captures a street sound sometimes lost when the genre is sealed into record. The band’s distinctive style makes that feat all the more impressive.
The Dadaist tendency toward perpetual sampling is one of the best things about musical life on Sundays in New Orleans, and TBC embodies that fluidity. On “Nagin (Give Me My Projects Back),” a swath of Chaka Khahn’s “Ain’t Nobody” carries the listener into a verse of political history: “Ray Nagin, you a bold-faced liar / Save all the rich and let the poor folks die.” It’s no surprise to hear a stellar version of Bell Biv Devoe’s “Poison” nor the shining cameos by Shamarr Allen, Bossman and others, but Dr. Michael White’s involvement with this generation of musicians is illuminating. With explosions going off in all directions on “ABungo,” trad torchbearer White strides into the breach, unfailing and clear.
ToBeContinued held down the 100 block of Bourbon for years, providing the soundtrack for revelers from across the globe. Before their eyes passed literally hundreds of thousands of souls—perhaps this is what makes them such apt observers. The album features a level of lyrical craft that demands more attention. From the eponymous final song: “I’m in the right now trying to get to the not yet / We’ve all been through some things we’d rather forget / All the tears I done seen could’ve made a flood itself /But the music was always there to help… we made a band where there was no band / The music, we wouldn’t be alive without.”