The Bowery Presents
Dirty Dozen Brass Band

Mardi Gras Masquerade

Dirty Dozen Brass Band

Honey Island Swamp Band

Sun, February 26, 2017

Doors: 6:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

Brooklyn Bowl

Brooklyn, NY

This event is 21 and over

Masks are not required, but encouraged for a bad brass time!

Dirty Dozen Brass Band
Dirty Dozen Brass Band
To describe how the Dirty Dozen Brass Band has arrived at its 35th Anniversary, trumpet player Gregory Davis employs a tried-and true New Orleans-centric analogy: "It ends up being like a pot of gumbo – you drop in a little okra, drop in a little shrimp, you drop in some crabs. Before you know it, you've mixed in all these different ingredients and you've got a beautiful soup. That was our approach to music early on and it still is today."

In 1977, The Dirty Dozen Social and Pleasure Club in New Orleans began showcasing a traditional Crescent City brass band. It was a joining of two proud, but antiquated, traditions at the time: social and pleasure clubs dated back over a century to a time when black southerners could rarely afford life insurance, and the clubs would provide proper funeral arrangements. Brass bands, early predecessors of jazz as we know it, would often follow the funeral procession playing somber dirges, then once the family of the deceased was out of earshot, burst into jubilant dance tunes as casual onlookers danced in the streets. By the late '70s, few of either existed. The Dirty Dozen Social and Pleasure Club decided to assemble this group as a house band, and over the course of these early gigs, the seven-member ensemble adopted the venue's name:The Dirty Dozen Brass Band.

Thirty-five years later, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band is a world famous music machine, whose name is synonymous with genre-bending romps and high-octane performances. They have revitalized the brass band in New Orleans and around the world, progressing from local parties, clubs, baseball games and festivals in their early years to touring nearly constantly in the U.S. and in over 30 other countries on five continents. The Dirty Dozen have been featured guests on albums by artists including David Bowie, Elvis Costello, Dr. John, Widespread Panic, Modest Mouse, Dave Matthews Band and the Black Crowes.
An appetite for musicological adventure, a commitment to honor tradition while not being constrained by it, and a healthy sense of humor have brought the world-traveling Dirty Dozen Brass Band to this remarkable juncture in an already storied career. To celebrate its 35th, the band is releasing Twenty Dozen, the septet's first studio release in six years. The new album, cut at the Music Shed in New Orleans, reunites the band with producer Scott Billington, who helmed DDBB's first major-label release, Voodoo, in 1989. It's a resolutely upbeat effort that seamlessly blends R&B, jazz, funk, Afro-Latino grooves, some Caribbean flavor, and even a Rihanna cover. Twenty Dozen mirrors in flow and feel a vibrant DDBB live set. The disc reaches an exuberant peak with a medley of New Orleans staples, including a particularly high-spirited rendering of "When the Saints Go Marching In." The final track – or, as Lewis puts it, "the after-party" – is an audience encore favorite, the ribald "Dirty Old Man," with Lewis doing an outstanding job in the title role. Twenty Dozen, says Lewis, is "classic Dirty Dozen. It's got something for your mind, body, and soul. We're gonna get you one way or another."

Twenty Dozen is also very much a group effort, with each of the members – Davis, Lewis, tenor-sax man Kevin Harris, trumpeter Efrem Towns, sousaphonist Kirk Joseph, drummer Terence Higgins and guitarist Jake Eckert — bringing original compositions or arrangement ideas to the sessions. It kicks off with the light-hearted funk of "Tomorrow," segues into the jazzier "Jook" then heads into the party-hearty island groove of "Best Of All." Billington suggested DDBB cover Rihanna's "Don't Stop the Music," and the group's reinterpretation is as ingenious as it is fun. The tough, seventies-style soul of "We Gon' Roll" supplies the most serious moment, as composer Higgins pays tribute to the indomitable nature of his fellow NOLA residents. As Davis – whose own "Git Up" is a smoking jazz workout — explains, "Just about everybody had a song or something they wanted to contribute. As we started to record the songs and listen to them, each song seemed to fit not just with the character of the individuals who wrote them but the character of the band. We are the Dirty Dozen and it's the overall character of the band that makes the live show work –and that makes this record work. Had we planned to make a certain kind of record, it might not have come out like that. In letting the guys' voices speak and come out on their own, the album turned out this way."

The traditional numbers at the tail end of Twenty Dozen serve as a reminder of how the group, since the beginning, has tried to reinvigorate the standards and build a bridge between old and new. Says Davis, "Over the last few years we have been doing a medley that has included 'Paul Barbarin's Second Line,' 'E Flat Blues' and 'Saints.' It had been going over so well that we thought maybe we needed to capture the spirit of what we're doing with this medley and put it on a record. 'Saints' is one of the most requested songs we do and you have to face the challenge of playing that song so many times. But once you get that started and see the smiles on people's faces and they start dancing to it, it makes you want to do it a little bit more. In the studio, I was envisioning different scenes from our audiences. I'd remember the reaction I would get attempting to get people up to dance, to do certain steps and follow me. It made it so much fun to remember the faces, the smiles, the body movements of the people. To get them up, to get them sweating — it's always a pleasure." Listening to this new "Saints" rendition on disc has the same effect: it's impossible to remain in your easy chair. Davis considers this and, laughing, imagines a new opportunity for the band: ""Maybe we need to sell this as a work-out CD."

While traditional numbers infused with a DDBB flavor have always been crowd-pleasing staples of the group's repertoire, it's the Dirty Dozen Brass Band's willingness to look beyond the New Orleans songbook and find connections amongst a wider range of music that has endeared them to critics, fellow musicians and a multi-generational, global audience. They've been embraced enthusiastically by the jam-band followers at Bonnaroo as well as by the devotees who flock to the yearly New Orleans Jazz Fest. Acts like the Black Crowes and Widespread Panic have taken them on tour and artists from Dizzy Gillespie to Elvis Costello to Norah Jones have joined them in the studio. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, DDBB participated in the From the Big Apple to the Big Easy benefit at New York City's Madison Square Garden and offered its own response to the aftermath of the disaster with an acclaimed 2006 song-by-song remake of Marvin Gaye's What's Going On. Their music has been featured on the HBO series, Treme, named after the New Orleans mid-city neighborhood where the band had formed, and the group performed on screen with Galactic and rapper Juvenile in Season 2. New Orleans remains a wellspring of musical inspiration and DDBB is a living, breathing embodiment of the continued vitality and evolution of the sounds of the city.

But, Davis cautions, "We've never been the norm, even though we started out as a traditional New Orleans brass band. In the beginning we weren't getting work of any kind, so we thought it was okay to explore other music. That allowed us as individuals to bring ourselves into the rehearsals and that's where we started to experiment. At the time the band started, I was a student at Loyola University and we were all being introduced to other music – to jazz from the twentieth century and so on. It's impossible to think that you can be exposed to the harmonies that Duke Ellington was making, the rhythms coming from Dizzy Gillespie or the funk being done by James Brown, and then ignore it when you're playing New Orleans music. New Orleans music is all of that. If we had chosen to just put in the music presented to us then as traditional, it would have stunted our growth. Being more than what we heard is what the band was about. "

DDBB enjoyed the opportunity to look back with the 2011 reissue of it galvanizing 1984 debut, My Feet Can't Fail Me Now, but the hard-working band has little time for nostalgia. For mainstays like Davis and Lewis, 35 years have passed in the blink of an eye, as Lewis, who also sits in with several other NOLA combos, acknowledges: "Check it out – I'm 70 years old, I'm the oldest dude in the band – I'm the oldest dude in everybody's band, now that I think about it. I don't know where the time went. I guess it's just the music, man, you don't be thinking about all that. I've been in it 35 straight years. The reason why the band stayed together for so long, despite all we've gone through, it's the right chemistry. We're trying to make it do what it do. If we have this conversation when I'm 80, we'll still be trying to make it do what it do."

"As we continue to do live shows," Davis concludes, "the challenge is still going to be, how am I going to entertain these people that are in front of me tonight? You have to make that happen at the moment, and that's what we do best."
– Michael Hill
Honey Island Swamp Band
Honey Island Swamp Band
Great music begins with great songs, and great songs are what the Honey Island Swamp Band is all about. The band came together after Aaron Wilkinson (acoustic guitar, mandolin, vocals) and Chris Mule' (electric guitar, vocals) were marooned in San Francisco after the levee breaches following Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, and had a chance encounter with fellow New Orleans evacuees Sam Price (bass, vocals) and Garland Paul (drums, vocals) at John Lee Hooker's Boom Boom Room on Fillmore Street. They knew each other from having all played together in some form or another in various New Orleans bands, and with the great unknown regarding their return to their underwater hometown looming in the distance, they decided to put together a band and get some gigs going. Fortunately, the Boom Boom Room's owner Alex Andreas offered the band a weekly gig on the spot.

Sunday nights at the Boom Boom Room soon became a favorite of Bay Area roots music lovers, who have a long-standing affinity for New Orleans music and musicians. Two months into the residency, sound engineer Robert Gatley approached the band with a rare opportunity — he wanted to record a Honey Island Swamp Band album at the legendary Record Plant studios in Sausalito, where he worked. The 7-song eponymous debut "Honey Island Swamp Band" came together beautifully, with Wilkinson and Mulé both contributing favorite originals, and was received so well that they all decided to continue the band upon moving back to New Orleans in 2007.

Honey Island Swamp Band's music has been described as "Bayou Americana" with timeless songs from Wilkinson & Mulé, highlighted by Mulé's searing guitar, Wilkinson's sure-handed mandolin, and 4-part vocal harmonies, all anchored by the powerful groove of Price & Paul's Louisiana stomp rhythm section. The addition of Trevor Brooks on Hammond B-3 organ to the HISB family in 2010 has rounded out the band's sound, which draws from a variety of influences in the world of roots music, including artists such as Lowell George & Little Feat, The Band, Taj Mahal, Gram Parsons, Jerry Garcia, Johnny Cash, Jimmy Reed, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, and New Orleans' own Earl King and Dr. John.

In April 2009, the band released its first full-length album entitled Wishing Well. The album was well-received and based on the strength of such songs as "Natural Born Fool", "Till the Money's Gone", and the title track, Wishing Well was awarded 2009′s "Best Blues Album" by OffBeat Magazine, which also named HISB as 2009's "Best Emerging Artist" and 2010's "Best Roots Rock Artist". Most recently HISB won the award for "Best Roots Rock Artist" of 2011 at the Big Easy Awards, New Orleans' most prestigious arts and entertainment honors.

2010's Good To You was named to several "Top Ten CDs of 2010″ lists, and has quickly become a staple on the Crescent City's legendary radio station WWOZ as well as on Sirius/XM Bluesville. It features the southern strut of songs such as "Be Good", "300 Pounds" and the album's first single "Chocolate Cake."

Now the band is gearing up for their first nationally-distributed studio recording, Cane Sugar, on Louisiana Red Hot Records in late July 2013. Produced by Grammy-winning producer John Porter, the 12 new songs illuminate the mix of country-inflected rock, New Orleans funky blues and infectious songwriting that makes Honey Island Swamp Band's music so familiar yet unique at the same time. Cane Sugar is by far their most fully-realized recording to date and reflects the finely tuned unit the band has become after incessant touring.
Venue Information:
Brooklyn Bowl
61 Wythe Avenue
Brooklyn, NY, 11249
http://www.brooklynbowl.com/