After getting off work, I changed clothes, packed my car and headed out Interstate 55 into Mississippi. My friend, the trombonist Edward Jackson had asked me to come to New Orleans and record on his album, so I decided to head down for the weekend, passing through a fair amount of rain as I headed through Jackson and into Louisiana. When I got to New Orleans, my friend Darren Towns, the bass drummer for the To Be Continued Brass Band told me that they were heading to a gig at a club on St. Bernard Avenue, so I met them there, and afterwards he and I headed to the Port of Call on Esplanade for a steak dinner. But it was TBC’s second gig of the evening that I had been looking forward to, a birthday party at midnight at the Sportsman’s Corner uptown on the corner of Second and Dryades. The place was literally standing room only, and TBC brought the kind of energy they always bring, particularly when they are playing for the hood. After about a 20-minute set for the 100 or so people that were inside the club, they headed back outside and disbanded. It was my first time inside this bar, which serves as a headquarters to the Wild Magnolias tribe, and it was an awesome brass band experience in my favorite city.
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
Many of the uptown projects in New Orleans have been torn down and replaced by modern-looking townhomes, but the residents still poured out onto front porches and lawns to see the second-line as it passed down LaSalle Avenue. Over to my left I spied the legendary Dew Drop Inn, an African-American nightclub and hotel that launched the careers of many great musicians and singers. Although closed since Katrina, the sturdy building survived the monster storm, and there is talk of renovation and reopening. Turning onto Louisiana Avenue, we came to Big Man Lounge, apparently a known gathering spot for brass bands and second-liners. Here the bands actually came to a stop, and the members of the Young Men Olympian disappeared inside the lounge for a rest and a refreshment. Hearing my name called, I turned around to see Edward Jackson, the trombonist with To Be Continued who was marching today with the Hot 8, who gathered out in the neutral ground of Louisiana Avenue near the lounge.