Saturday, May 13, 2017

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
The Soul Rebels' brass band revolution

This week, StLJN's video spotlight shines on the Soul Rebels, who are coming to St. Louis to perform on Thursday, May 25 at the Old Rock House.

Described by the Village Voice as "the missing link between Public Enemy and Louis Armstrong," the group was founded in the early 90s in New Orleans by percussionists Lumar LeBlanc and Derrick Moss, who then were both part of the more traditionally minded Olympia Brass Band.

LeBlanc and Moss wanted to bring more contemporary music into the brass band format, incorporating hip-hop, soul, funk, and R&B into their sound. Starting with a regular Thursday night gig at the bar Le Bon Temps Roule - a residency that continues to this day, when they're not on the road - the Soul Rebels first gained a local following and eventually became an international touring act, playing major venues and festivals on several difference continents.

They've recorded a total of seven albums since 1995, the most recent being 2012's Unlock Your Mind, and along the way have developed a sub-specialty in collaborating with performers from many musical genres.

Over the years they've worked not just with fellow New Orleans groups like Galactic and funk icons including saxophonist Maceo Parker, but also hard rockers Metallica and Marilun Manson, pop-punk band Green Day, and a host of hip-hop MCs, inclding Nas, Rakim, Slick Rick, Talib Kweli, Pharoahe Monch, GZA, Black Thought of The Roots, Big Freedia, and many more.

You can get an pretty good idea idea of their approach to transforming popular material via today's collection of videos, starting up above with their version of "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," recorded in 2015 at Tipitina's in New Orleans.

After the jump, you can see the Soul Rebels offering their take on the 2015 hit "Uptown Funk," recorded at the Blue Note in Tokyo. That's followed by arrangements of Michael Jackson's "Rock With You," from a show in 2012 at Brooklyn Bowl in NYC, and the Eurythmics' 1980s hit "Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This," as performed in 2012 at DBA in New Orleans.

In the fifth clip, you can get a taste of how the Soul Rebels collaborate in live performance, as they back the great old-school MC Rakim in a regrettably brief version of one of his biggest songs, "Don't Sweat the Technique." Last but not least, you can check out an entire set of the band, recorded in 2011 at The Blockley in Philadelphia.

For more about the Soul Rebels, check out this feature from Gambit magazine about their tour earlier this year with Nas, and this article from Mix magazine, in which their sound engineer talks about mixing the band during some dates with Talib Kweli.

You can see the rest of today's videos after the jump...

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