Tag Archives: treme

Treme in Seattle – A Concert Review

5 Sep

“A Night in Treme” Featuring the Rebirth Brass Band, Donald Harrison, and Glen David Andrews at Jazz Alley in Seattle, September 1-4, 2011.

The musical New Orleans neighborhood of Treme showed up to Jazz Alley last week, featuring the likes of the Rebirth Brass Band, saxophonist Donald Harrison, and trombonist Glen David Andrews.

I attended the opening night sold-out first set at Jazz Alley, and right away it was apparent that the musicians had every intention of turning the club into a Pacific Northwest sliver of New Orleans.

I wasn’t sure how the show would be divided up for the performers ahead of time, but as it turned out the Rebirth Brass Band would be the featured performers throughout, sprinkled with guest appearances by Harrison and Andrews.

The energy that Rebirth brought was immediate and throughout. The seven member band, joking around and wearing street clothes, opened with the Fats Domino Tune I’m Walkin, which took about three seconds to get people out of their seats dancing. Rebirth followed that with three songs very different from each other – Grazin’ in the Grass, the Professor Longhair tune Mardi Gras in New Orleans, and a song they called Mexican Special.

I always find myself concerned when the initial band brings such an intense overload of energy, the special guests who join them mid-concert wont be able to keep that energy up. This was not the case.

Donald Harrison joined Rebirth after four songs, showing exactly why he is Big Chief Donald Harrison. While he went on stage with his sax, he spent the majority of the time on vocals, starting with an emotional and intense Mardi Gras Indian chant before the band joined in with song. When he did play his sax, we were all reminded why he is both a New Orleans musician and a national recording artist, blowing the roof off of the alley with exploding improvisation.

Harrison was followed by Glen David Andrews, who is not only a good New Orleans trombone player, but at 6 foot 4 inches tall, a massive stage presence and performer. Starting his performance from his dressing room, Andrews performed Down in the Treme (written by John Boutte, the theme song for the HBO television show Treme), everywhere from on stage, up the stairway, on the second floor, on tables, and everywhere in between.

With a show featuring as much talent and excitement as this, I don’t know if I would go so far as to say that Glen David Andrews stole the show, but the endless line of people wanting to meet him following the show might suggest that he did.

Seattle needed to have this neighborhood of New Orleans brought to it. It wouldn’t have been right if waiters and waitresses had open walkways to deliver food. Instead the staff fought through the sold out crowd on the first floor, all of which was up on their feet dancing and waving their napkins, needing little encouragement to do so. Seattle not only got a slice of true New Orleans culture, but were given an opportunity to get up, dance, and smile. No doubt many audience members left wondering how soon they could make their next trip to NOLA for more dancing and smiling.

A Tour of Treme with Donald Harrison and Glen David Andrews

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A Tour of Treme with Donald Harrison and Glen David Andrews

3 Sep
A Tour of Treme with Donald Harrison and Glen David Andrews

Glen David Andrews (left) and Donald Harrison stopped by the KPLU Seattle studios for an interview and performance on September 1. Justin Steyer / KPLU

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW AND PERFORMANCE

I welcomed Donald Harrison (alto saxophone, congas) and Glen David Andrews (trombone) to our studios on Thursday, both of whom were born in New Orleans’ Treme neighborhood, cut their musical teeth on the music of Treme, and can be seen in the HBO television series, Treme.

Currently they’re also part of an ever-changing line-up of New Orleans musicians touring with a show called A Night In Treme which is bringing the music of Treme’s Congo Square to cities all over America – including Seattle’s Jazz Alley through Sunday night.

After warming up with Just A Close Walk With Thee, the conversation got underway with Glen talking about what the Treme TV series means to him as a New Orleanian.

He and Donald also discussed the history of the Mardi Gras Indian tradition, the history of the Treme neighborhood and gave a behind-the-scenes look at the production of the television series.

All this, combined with two more fine musical performances (a nice improvisation, and the NOLA classic “When The Saints Go Marching In”) makes for a delightful tour of a neighborhood that continues to contribute its unique richness to American culture – a neighborhood called Treme.

HBO’s “Treme” kept music a centerpiece in Season 2

HBO’s “Treme” kept music a centerpiece in Season 2

9 Jul

Season 2 of the HBO television series Treme just came to a close, and was renewed for a third season.

While one might say that an ongoing theme in Season 1 was immediate recovery and adjustment for the city of New Orleans immediately following Hurricane Katrina, and Season 2 examined issues with violence and corruption a year later, music remained a vibrant focal point throughout.

Far from simply offering an enjoyable soundtrack, Season 2 of Treme shows the overwhelming importance of music in New Orleans on a variety of levels. Keeping with the mission in the first season, Treme continues to use New Orleans musicians as reoccurring characters playing themselves, in venues they might normally be found, as well as great cameo appearances from jazz and folk superstars.

Season 2 featured musical highlights including scenes and performances by NOLA locals and non-locals, including Dr. John, Donald Harrison, Henry Butler, Kermit Ruffins, the Hot 8 Brass Band, Galactic, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Ron Carter, John Hiatt and Shawn Colvin.

Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers

These performances and appearances were not only entertaining, but keep in stride with the attempts of the program to offer a certain element of “real”. Kermit Ruffins is regularly found leading groups in NOLA bars and clubs to packed crowds. Donald Harrison is recruited late in the season to perform on a record designed to mix modern jazz with the sounds of Mardi Gras Indians. As KPLU’s Robin Lloyd pointed out to me, this is very appropriate for Harrison. He is the Big Chief of the Congo Nation Afro-New Orleans Cultural Group which keeps alive the secret traditions of Congo Square, but has also spent a great deal of time being involved in everything from smooth jazz to hip-hop.

In the Season 2 finale, hope was offered after a tumultuous season, where Jazz Fest takes center stage, and the program closes out with an emotional montage set to the Louis Armstrong recording of Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams.

While the close of Season 2 suggests more optimism than the finale of Season 1 did, several elements of pain and struggle to come for the city of New Orleans in Season 3 are indicated. No doubt that it will be set to the wonderful sounds and music of a city that continues to struggle in recovery.

HBO's "Treme" kept music a centerpiece in Season 2

9 Jul

Season 2 of the HBO television series Treme just came to a close, and was renewed for a third season.

While one might say that an ongoing theme in Season 1 was immediate recovery and adjustment for the city of New Orleans immediately following Hurricane Katrina, and Season 2 examined issues with violence and corruption a year later, music remained a vibrant focal point throughout.

Far from simply offering an enjoyable soundtrack, Season 2 of Treme shows the overwhelming importance of music in New Orleans on a variety of levels. Keeping with the mission in the first season, Treme continues to use New Orleans musicians as reoccurring characters playing themselves, in venues they might normally be found, as well as great cameo appearances from jazz and folk superstars.

Season 2 featured musical highlights including scenes and performances by NOLA locals and non-locals, including Dr. John, Donald Harrison, Henry Butler, Kermit Ruffins, the Hot 8 Brass Band, Galactic, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Ron Carter, John Hiatt and Shawn Colvin.

Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers

These performances and appearances were not only entertaining, but keep in stride with the attempts of the program to offer a certain element of “real”. Kermit Ruffins is regularly found leading groups in NOLA bars and clubs to packed crowds. Donald Harrison is recruited late in the season to perform on a record designed to mix modern jazz with the sounds of Mardi Gras Indians. As KPLU’s Robin Lloyd pointed out to me, this is very appropriate for Harrison. He is the Big Chief of the Congo Nation Afro-New Orleans Cultural Group which keeps alive the secret traditions of Congo Square, but has also spent a great deal of time being involved in everything from smooth jazz to hip-hop.

In the Season 2 finale, hope was offered after a tumultuous season, where Jazz Fest takes center stage, and the program closes out with an emotional montage set to the Louis Armstrong recording of Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams.

While the close of Season 2 suggests more optimism than the finale of Season 1 did, several elements of pain and struggle to come for the city of New Orleans in Season 3 are indicated. No doubt that it will be set to the wonderful sounds and music of a city that continues to struggle in recovery.

New Orleans Invades Austin at SXSW

12 Mar

I am a big fan of the HBO show Treme, and the party that they are going to be throwing at South By Southwest in Austin this year to kick off their second season looks like a lot of fun.

The event, starting at noon on Thursday, March 17th, will celebrate the April 24th Season Premiere of the critically acclaimed series (airing Sundays at 10 pm with same-night encores at midnight). The complete first season will be available on DVD on March 29th.

The party kicks off in front of The Ghost Room at noon as musicians, including the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, come together for a second line led by Dancingman504. The quintessential New Orleans art form will weave down to Sixth Street as SXSW revelers join in the fun. The party then moves inside for exclusive performances by legendary New Orleans and Cajun artists including the evening’s headliner the Dirty Dozen Brass Band as well as Pine Leaf Boys, Henry Butler and Big Chief Monk Boudreaux with DJ Paul Craven spinning throughout. Guests will get an exclusive look at the second season of Treme as they enjoy Cajun food provided by Austin’s own Evangeline Café.

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