Thank you Anch for covering my show yesterday. I’ve been in New Orleans with some of the members of the Artesian Rumble Arkestra. This activist Olympia band is a regular participant in HonkFests and I’ve had the honor of being allowed to tag along with them as they journey into the birthplace of jazz. Two band members in attendance are also air show hosts on KAOS – Juli Kelen and David Moseley.
One of the highlights of the trip here is to experience the Black Men of Labor parade this Sunday and this afternoon we will meet with two of the founders – Fred Johnson and Benny Jones. Some brass instruments were brought down to donate to the youth music programs, Roots of Music but before handing the instruments over, some of the band members took the instruments on a test run outside where we are staying which just happens to be on Frenchmen Street. Other band members accompanied them with instruments they brought from home or improvised with trash can lids and a bicycle bell.
The last few nights, we’ve been going to the Frenchmen Street clubs to catch music both in the clubs and on the street. Well, today, about 10 blocks from that scene but still on Frenchmen Street, the Artesian Rumble Arkestra made its New Orleans debut.
Playing outside our digs on Frenchmen
Last night’s honk band performing down at the nightclub side of Frenchmen
I doubt the Census Bureau can tell us where we might find the highest concentration of tuba players, but if it could, I’d guess that New Orleans would be near the top.
Just think of all those Second Lines with sousaphone players blasting the beat out over the heads of dancers.
A quick trivia detour: The sousaphone is the wrap around version of the tuba, making it easier to carry and project sound forward. From what I’ve read, the sousaphone, named after military-band extraordinaire John Philip Sousa was a modified version of a tuba-like instrument, called a helicon, designed to be played while riding a horse. Tally Ho!
In honor of David filling in for me while I screw off on the beach, here are five notable tuba/sousaphone players from New Orleans.
Anthony “Tuba Fats” Lacen – Mr. Lacen was part of Danny Barker’s Fairview Baptist Church band and became a bandleader and mentor to many. Famous for playing the streets, he also toured the world. Over a decade after his passing in 2004, Tuba Fats is still fondly remembered in New Orleans with a special day of recognition (Tuba Fats Tuesday after JazzFest) and a square named in his honor in the Treme.
Kirk Joseph – Another alumnus of Barker’s band of youthful brass players, Mr. Joseph was one of the founders of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band which reinvigorated the New Orleans brass band sound. He continues to play today mixing tradition with the contemporary and maintaining his credentials as the hip godfather of brass music.
Phil Frazier – Founding member of my favorite brass band, Mr. Frazier, along with his brother Keith, have been keeping the beat for Rebirth Brass Band since 1983. Influenced by the two previously mentioned tuba players, Phil has charted his own territory with Rebirth, laying down funky bass lines for the band that scored a grammy in 2012 with its album “Rebirth of New Orleans.”
Matt Perrine – It’s hard to avoid Mr. Perrine if you watch any number of New Orleans acts such as Bonerama and the New Orleans Nightcrawlers. But to catch his latest work, check out “Linger Til Dawn” featuring awesome vocals by his wife Debbie Davis and some tasty interpretations of classics like “Sunny Afternoon” and “Dream a Little Dream of Me.”