Sunday, April 14, 5:45p
Louisiana Fish Fry Stage
Formed in 2017, the Big 6 Brass Band is a quickly rising star in the already brilliant brass-band space of the city. The group prides itself on being a small musical family of well-rounded musicians with “a big sound,” which explains their open-ended approach to music. Deft whether performing traditional New Orleans brass-band material or covers of hit songs like SZA’s “The Weekend,” the crew has earned a reputation for not only being on the pulse of brass-band culture, but at times creating quite a surge in its popularity.
Big 6 recently went viral on local media for bringing a second line inside the Elysian Fields Waffle House just hours after local rapper Theodore “Young Greatness” Jones was killed outside its doors. There, they played the revered spiritual “I’ll Fly Away.” Some may have seen the group’s other viral moment, when the band visited a Popeye’s to put on a classic New Orleans set for customers and staff. A video of that performance has garnered over 16,000 views.
On Sunday, April 14, Big 6 Brass Band will make its French Quarter Festival debut. There, trombonists Dwayne Finne and Lamar Heard; trumpeters Chris Cotton, Eric Gordon and Chadrick Honore; saxophonist Utopia Francis; snare drummer Pierre Carter; tuba player Clifton Smith; bass drummer Thaddeus Ramsey; and cowbell percussionist Chris Tero will put on a set encompassing the hip-hop, reggae, R&B, funk, gospel and traditional influences of their repertoire.
Finnie was previously a member of Hot 8 before joining Big 6, a move that allowed him to take part in some of the latter’s most memorable career highlights. Among them, he says, was the funeral for the New Orleans Saints owner, Tom Benson. Performing at last year’s Essence Festival was also a highlight for Finnie, who says the group is almost finished with a major project.
“This is the joke,” he tells me. “Everybody calls us the radio band. We play everything off the radio. But we just finished an album of material we composed ourselves.” Though the band loves to play the music they grew up on, “things change … everybody plays traditional music. We try to be different.”
The band’s upcoming appearance at French Quarter Fest is a harbinger of Big 6’s promising future, Finnie says. “We are very, very excited to be a part of French Quarter Fest. It’s a new beginning to everything. You never know who’s going to be out there. We could be playing and somebody might hear us who came and visited, and we may be away in California the next time. We’re going to have a lot of fun.”
Folks can get a taste of Big 6 Brass Band’s original music by checking out their new single, “The Mind,” available on all major streaming platforms.