by Red Cotton
Formed in 2002 while members were still in high school, the To Be Continued Brass Band is one of the youngest-aged, most popular bands on the New Orleans music scene with members ranging in age from 22 to 26 years. The band is best known for their nightly performances on the corner of Bourbon and Canal where many visitors encounter brass band music for the first time via the gateway to the French Quarter. This weekend, visitors and residents alike will have an opportunity to enjoy the unique melodic sounds of TBC as a featured act for the first time at Essence Fest, sharing the national spotlight with three other brass band heavyweights: Rebirth, Soul Rebels, and The Hot 8.
This isn’t, however, the first time TBC has played Essence Fest. TBC trombonist Edward “Juicy” Jackson talks about their first performance at the festival some years back and what it means to be featured at the annual celebration of Black culture and music renown nationally as the ‘party with a purpose’.
Q: Rebirth, Soul Rebels, Hot 8 and TBC are playing the fest this weekend. How does it feel to be featured alongside such seasoned musicians? Brass band royalty really...
A: I feel accomplished. I feel like people have been checking for us, like people appreciate what we’re doing. And less alone. As an artist, you tend to feel alone. The only other people that know how you feel are your competition, other artists. Its a blessing to be acknowledged, be noticed, to have others take the time to say 'we like what you’re doing and we want to hire you'.
Q: What was it like the first year you performed at Essence Fest?
A: We performed with The Roots in 2005. They saw us out on Bourbon and liked what we were doing. They said we reminded them of themselves. They tried us to get to do a show that night at House of Blues but me and (trumpeter) Devin weren’t old enough. So they got our info and we went back to play on Bourbon. Later they got in touch with us to play with them at Essence Fest.
They had a real busy schedule so we didn’t practice with them until the day of the fest. We weren’t the types of musicians that needed to be groomed or nurtured to be in that setting. They felt we had the talent they needed to do what needed to be done. We did a little opening act with Questlove on the drums for about 5-10 minutes then the rest of The Roots came out. We played with them on a couple of songs. We did that Erykah Badu tune with them ‘You Got Me’.
And after the storm hit, they called us out to Philly and we did a concert with them and Jill Scott. They looked out for the band like that, put some money in our pocket...
Q: How is the band preparing for Saturday’s concert? What do you have in store for us?
We’re young, we’re ambitious and for the most part we go on Bourbon every night and perform. So we don’t have to do too much practice like another band would. We can focus now on stuff like what we want to wear and the kind of atmosphere we wanna create.
Its gonna be filled with energy, very harmonically sound. We’re gonna do all the stuff we like to do. (smiling) Its not gonna be too selfish but it gonna be fun.
Check out To Be Continued at Essence Fest Saturday 7:30pm in the SuperLounge. Check back here for videos of their performance.
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