TBC Brass Band Back at The Hi-Ho Lounge


My love affair with New Orleans brass bands actually began with a disappointment during the Cutting Edge Music Business Conference back in 2010. Hearing of a place called Donna’s Brass Band Headquarters on Rampart Street, I walked all the way from my hotel room at the Westin Canal Place to it, only to find that it had closed for good, its owners relocated to Florida. I really wasn’t sure what New Orleans brass band music sounded like, but I wanted to find out.
Fortunately, while I was in town for the conference, I saw that the Stooges Brass Band were playing a gig at a place called the Hi-Ho Lounge on St. Claude Avenue, and drove out there to catch it. In those days, the Hi-Ho had a decidedly inner-city vibe about it. People parked on the neutral ground in the middle of St. Claude, and there was a truck out front with a huge oil barrel smoker on the back cooking chicken wings and such. Inside the dark and steamy lounge, a standing-room-only, predominantly-Black crowd was enjoying brass band music, with a large crowd of buckjumpers in front of the stage. I had heard the traditional brass bands at Preservation Hall, but this music was at once rawer, newer and quite different. The rhythms of it were more African or perhaps Caribbean, the attitude more of young Black New Orleans than jazz tradition. I found both the music and the vibe thrilling, and then, unexpectedly, the band decided to take a break. As they walked out the front door to the sidewalk, I heard the beat of drums, and suddenly a brass band materialized from the dark neighborhood behind the lounge. They marched up to the Hi-Ho and called out the Stooges to a battle right in the intersection of the streets, and as the two bands battled back and forth, I was especially impressed with the band that had marched up to challenge the Stooges. As they played a tune that I later would learn was called “Why You Worried About Me”, I asked a young white girl if she knew who they were. She handed me her business card, which said she was Lisa Palumbo, and told me that they were called TBC Brass Band. That night, TBC became my favorite brass band in the world.
Within a year, the Hi-Ho had come under different owners, and brass bands were out. DJ’s, bounce rappers and electronic music were in, and the owners were clearly going for a different crowd. So I never would have imagined in a million years that I would be seeing a brass band in the Hi-Ho Lounge again, and certainly not To Be Continued. But Mardi Gras does strange things, and as I came into New Orleans from my day-long trekk across Mississippi, Brenard “Bunny” Adams texted me that they were playing at the Hi-Ho, so I made my way to the spot as quickly as I could. Finding a place to park was not as easy as it had been eight years before, but I could hear the unmistakable sounds of my favorite brass band coming from the club from several blocks away as I walked up. Unfortunately, as I walked up to the entrance to see about going inside, I heard them announce that the last tune had been their final one, and to wish everyone good night. Although I was disappointed, the TBC band members were glad to see me, and we spent nearly an hour out in front of the club getting caught up and talking, while other bands set up and played for the party crowd that was gearing up for the holidays. Because Lundi Gras and Mardi Gras are actual holidays in Louisiana, lots of people are off work, so the Sunday night parties go on into the wee hours of Monday. But I was exhausted, so I ended my night early at the house of a friend on the West Bank.

Krewe of Orpheus: The Rains Came

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Because rain was predicted, the city of New Orleans had moved up the starting times of both Lundi Gras parades by an hour. That had managed to keep the Krewe of Proteus parade dry, but it did not suffice for the Krewe of Orpheus parade that followed. My homeboy Darren and I were posted up in front of the Krewe du Brew Coffeehouse, checking out bands from Talladega College and Alcorn State University, but when St. Augustine High School’s Marching Band came past (which was a band I had really hoped to see), a sudden blast of icy cold wind hit us in the face, and within a few minutes, it started raining, and not a few drops, but a downpour. My digital camera did not need to be exposed to water, and so we retreated into the coffeehouse. Eventually, the rain let up enough that we were able to make our way to an area under the Crescent City Connection bridge approach, where Darren said a lot of “band heads” gathered each year to see the bands. Because of the heavy winds, we weren’t entirely dry even under the bridge, but we were at least drier. The temperature had also dropped from 73 to 48 in less than a half-hour, but a festive mood continued under the bridge, where one group of revellers had even hired a DJ to play bounce music between bands. I was most intrigued by the use of flambeaux in the Orpheus parade, I suppose due to tradition, and also to illuminate the elaborate floats at night, although Orpheus is one of the newer krewes, dating only back to 1968 or so. The young men bearing torches brought a cheerful but somewhat mysterious ambiance to the whole thing. When it was finally over, we were thoroughly wet and cold, and set about the task of finding something to eat, which was easier said than done. Such places as were open were fairly crowded, but we managed to get into O’Henry’s on Carrollton and enjoy a hamburger before Darren got called to a last minute TBC Brass Band gig on the West Bank.













10th Ward Buck Makes an Appearance at the HOPE Summer Jam

102 10th Ward Buck
Tenth Ward Buck has kept a high profile among bounce artists in ways that make him something of a spokesman for the bounce music phenomenon. He has authored a book, The Definition of Bounce which was the first full-length book to be published on this unique form of New Orleans rap music. He also owned and operated Finger Lickn’ Wings on Jackson Street until January of this year, and is a candidate for the city council of New Orleans. Buck didn’t perform at the HOPE Summer Jam, but he did make an appearance and a brief address to the crowd.

Ha Sizzle Live at the HOPE Summer Jam

New Orleans bounce artist Ha Sizzle gained some attention this year when he was invited to perform at South By Southwest in Austin, a festival where New Orleans bounce and other musics are often prominently featured. His appearance at thr HOPE Summer Jam was well-received by the crowd.

Sissy Nobby (@SISSYNOBBY) Takes the Stage at the HOPE Summer Jam

Bounce rapper Sissy Nobby is one of a number of alternative lifestyle bounce rappers who came to prominence in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Rappers who identified themselves as gay or transgendered in New Orleans were certainly not unknown prior to the storm, but the media focused on the phenomenon in the years following, and gay and lesbian rappers were given considerable exposure in the Bounce Music art exhibits that were installed at the Smithsonian and other galleries in New Orleans, New York and Austin. In many ways, all of this was unfortunate, as it tended to distract from the music that these artists made by focusing on their sexuality or lifestyle choices, and the reason that shouldn’t be done was evident at the HOPE Summer Jam, where most of the crowd cheered wildly for Nobby, showing that his fan base is certainly not restricted to homosexuals, at least not in New Orleans.

DJ Jubilee Hypes The Crowd at HOPE Summer Jam

DJ Jubilee is one of the originators of both bounce music and New Orleans rap in general, and his appearance at the HOPE Summer Jam in Algiers was greeted by the biggest applause of the evening. Jubilee’s music has always been dance and party music, characterized by the spirit of fun and play, and while some of the songs (and dances) can have sexual overtones, there’s no violence or profanity in it. Given that Jubilee first came to popularity in the early 1990’s, I was amazed to see the love he got from young teenagers nowadays. His popularity in New Orleans truly crosses generations.