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Rebirth Brass Band: Feel Like Funkin' It Up

Wendy McCardle

This is not John Philip Sousa's band music.

John Philip Sousa

Don't get us wrong, Sousa is in the pantheon of them-who-haul-brass-through-the-streets, but we suspect the maestro might be surprised by the music today. Which, if you think about it, is good.

Otherwise, there would only be the old-timey brass band idiom and the genre would have lost touch with the people.
Which is precisely where this music has always lived. With military bands and civic orchestras and parades and funerals and weddings, brass band music has always been popular music.

And in New Orleans, it still is. 

While just about everywhere else brass music has been relegated to park bandstands on sweltering July nights, surrounded by a protective perimeter of bunting, in New Orleans the music still breathes easy in the streets, day in and day out.

American traditions age differently in New Orleans.

Credit Amanda Irizarry
Philip Frazier and Gregory Veals of Rebirth Brass Band flank Gwen Thompkins at Marigny Recording Studio

On today's program we talk about brass bands in general and the Rebirth Brass Band in particular. Our guests include ethnomusicologist Matt Sakakeeny from Tulane, and Philip Frazier & Gregory Veals from Rebirth. The music is loud and lovable, so turn it up. And join us at for more on today's show.

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Gwen Thompkins is a New Orleans native, NPR veteran and host of WWNO's Music Inside Out, where she brings to bear the knowledge and experience she amassed as senior editor of Weekend Edition, an East Africa correspondent, the holder of Nieman and Watson Fellowships, and as a longtime student of music from around the world.