The thing about music, see, is you can’t know about all of it. No matter how much you got, no matter how much you cram between your ears, no matter how long you’ve been cramming it, there’s always more.
Round our house, me and Mrs My New Favourite Band are working our way through HBO’s much brilliant Tremé. Set in post Katrina New Orleans, it follows a fantastic hotch potch of characters as they rebuild their lives following the devastating hurricane. As you’d hope for a show set in Orleans, music is front and centre.
We twigged that there were rafts of special musical guests when Elvis Costello popped up early doors acting badly. No idea who they were, but we could spot them due to bad acting. We deferred to Google to find out, but had to stop when Mrs MNFB discovered ‘The Bad Thing’ that happens in Season One while on one such expedition. Keeping it from me almost tipped her over the edge let me tell you.
So thanks to Tremé our ears are open to street folk, school marching bands, jazz of all shapes and sizes, soul bands, brass bands, spectacular Mardi Gras Indians and, thanks to Davis, mash ups of most of the above, with some hip hop for good measure.
Yes, yes, rambling, I know.
What really gets me is the brass. Which brings us to Youngblood Brass Band. See, got there in the end.
Tremé has served up some instruments we’ve never even seen before let alone heard, including the sousaphone. The big daddy of the tuba family, it wraps around the player like a snake and makes the greatest noise – a huge, deep, bassy rumble – and in the right hands it is pure funk. And the right hands, it turns out, belong to one Nat McIntosh of Youngblood Brass Band.
With just three albums under their belt since 1998 and a fourth on the way this summer, not exactly prolific, but feel the quality will you? The nine-piece hail from Madison, New Orleans, New York, Nashville, Minneapolis and Chicago, and right there you have quite a musical heritage roll call… Madison you’re saying? Home to James Brown’s drummer Clyde Stubblefield and uber producer Butch Vig, although sadly not living in the same house as far as we know.
Picking just the one track for your listening pleasure was almost impossible, so after much thought you get ‘March’ from their 2007 album ‘Is That a Riot?’ and from the new album ‘Pax Volumi’ (due this summer on Tru Thoughts), the single ’20 Questions’, which is out on 3 June. Watch it below…
As you can see, what you get here is a bunch of lads cooking up a total storm, shuffling indie kids and their guitars this isn’t. Chuck in a decent MC and the whole thing is pure joy. They’re really worth investigating, because aside from cooking up said storm they’re no strangers to spreading the word. Start at the Wiki entry and The Layered Arts Collective site layered.org and you discover they run a schools programme that covers everything from Orleans musical history to punk and they not only run their own label, but publish their own sheet music so school bands can get in on the fun. And that, in this age of identikit X Factor hopelessness, can only be a good thing.