This week, our video spotlight focuses on the New Orleans brass band the Soul Rebels, who will be in St. Louis this coming Thursday, May 23 for a gig at the Old Rock House.
Formed in the mid-1990s by ex-members of the Young Olympia Brass Band to offer an updated take on the brass band tradition, the Soul Rebels perform weekly at a local spot called Le Bon Temps Roulé when they're home in New Orleans. In recent years, though, they've also traveled quite a bit, becoming regulars on the festival circuit both stateside at events like Bonnaroo and Electric Forest as well as overseas in Europe, Asia and Australia.
The Soul Rebels have recorded a total of seven albums, with their most recent (and first nationally distributed) release, Unlock Your Mind, coming out in 2012 from Rounder Records. One of the most notable things about them is the degree of hip-hop influence in their sound - they seem to use solo vocals, both singing and rapping, in their music much more often than other brass bands, and frequently have been known to serve up live cover versions of hits from the likes of Jay-Z, Kanye West and Outkast.
You can see and hear some examples of the Soul Rebels in action today in a half-dozen video clips, starting up above with a version of their song "Showtime," which, interesting enough, would seem to share some musical DNA with the theme from the old syndicated TV program Showtime at the Apollo). That track and "Let It Roll," heard down below, both were recorded last year at an in-store show at a record store in Orlando, FL and do a good job of demonstrating the influence of hip-hop on the Soul Rebels.
Below that, it's a medley of "Turn It Up" and "Roll, Rebel, Roll," also from 2012, which serves to further elucidate the connection between hip-hop and the traditional chants of a New Orleans street band.
Next up, the Rebels show off some other influences with a somewhat improbable yet effective cover version of "Sweet Dreams Are Made of This," which was a hit for the 1980s synth-pop band Eurythmics. Judging from the number of clips found on YouTube, the song seems to be a staple of their live show; this version was recorded in 2012 in Manchester in the UK.
The final two clips find the Soul Rebels back in their hometown, with a cover of Kanye West's "Touch The Sky" filmed at a place called DBA this past New Year's Eve, and three more songs - Stevie Wonder's "Living For The City," the original tune "Let Your Mind Be Free" and a reprise of "Showtime" - recorded earlier in 2012 at the Louisiana Music Factory.