From big names like Dr. John, the Neville Brothers and Harry Connick Jr. to lesser-known acts, New Orleans musicians usually seem to do well in St. Louis. Longtime readers may remember yr. humble editor's half-baked theory, advanced several times before in this space, that this is in part because the two cities share a number of attributes - early settlement by the French, the Mississippi River, large numbers of Catholics, significant cultural contributions from the African-American and Italian-American communities, and so on.
It's also interesting to note that several St. Louis musicians, such as pianist Tom McDermott and trumpeter and singer Jeremy Davenport, have moved to New Orleans and done pretty well there. (Pianist Peter Martin also made career breakthroughs while living in New Orleans, though he wound up moving back to St. Louis after Hurricane Katrina.)
Of course, there also are many significant differences between the two cities, but for whatever reason, we definitely share some of the same musical tastes, and so it should come as no surprise that two more New Orleans acts are making their way to St. Louis for performances this month.
The Rebirth Brass Band will be here for three gigs - headlining at Bandwagon Hall on Saturday, July 23, and appearing as special guests at free concerts the next two nights with the Compton Heights Concert Band at Francis Park and Tower Grove Park. The following week, Bonerama will play at the Sheldon Concert Hall's upstairs ballroom on Sunday, July 31 in a show presented by The Gramophone and The Sheldon. So, today, let's take a look at some video clips from both bands.
Up above, you can see and hear a slightly stripped-down version of Rebirth Brass Band at, of all places, a Borders bookstore, playing one of their their best known songs, "Feel Like Funkin' It Up," which was used prominently in a season one episode of the HBO series Treme. (There are several versions of this tune online, but this one had the best overall audio quality, and besides, it's kind of fun to see RBB bring some stank to the rather sterile environment of a Borders.)
Down below, you can check out the RBB doing "Do Whatcha Wanna" in a clip shot in 2008 in the streets of the French Quarter, and "A.P. Tureaud," recorded at the Pigeon Town Steppers second line parade in 2009
Below that, there are three clips of Bonerama, starting with a version of the Led Zeppelin tune "When The Levee Breaks" from 2009, with heavily effected trombone filling the spot occupied on Led Zep's recording by distorted guitar. Next up is their take on Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues," also recorded in 2009, which gets a sort of funk-rock treatment. The final video, a version of "I'll Fly Away" from the same 2009 gig in DeKalb, IL, serves to demonstrate Bonerama's approach to more traditional material.