by Red Cotton
Corey Henry’s ‘Treme Funktet is only about two months young but, as with everything the young trombonist does music-wise, its taking off like a fast growing fire.
Sunday nights at the Candlelight Lounge is usually a small intimate affair for the neighborhood elders mostly to watch sports, drink a beer and catch up with friends. But for the last several Sundays, the place is popping with people from all over the city pouring in to catch the new Funktet - and that's the outcome Henry was striving for.
“Before Katrina, a lotta music came through here”, recalls Henry. “This was a performing spot. Now its more of a gathering spot. Friends meet, drop off flyers, get a drink, play music on the jukebox.” Henry, who grew up in Treme and whose parents still live there, is striving to re-launch the live music scene back in his old hood. “We want to get live music in here as many nights as possible.”
The “we” points to a family-driven neighborhood revitalization initiative. Henry is related to Ms. Chinee, owner of the last live music venue left in Treme post-Katrina, well as Benny Jones, leader of the Treme Brass Band which performs at the Candlelight every Wednesday night. The mid-week affair has become one of the most popular live music events happening Wednesdays in New Orleans, the club nearly bursting with music lovers spilling out into the street. Henry hopes to duplicate that same energy with his Sunday post-second line show.
And there’s reason to believe that if anyone can exhume Treme’s music scene, Corey Henry can. Henry’s pedigree reads like a New Orleans royal coat of arms. Born and raised in the Treme, he learned his craft with his uncle Benny in venues like Preservation Hall. In the mid 80‘s, he formed The Lil Rascals Brass Band which created many of the most popular songs played on the second line scene (‘Rascals Got That Fire’ is co-opted by practically every brass band to ever strike a lick). For many years since the storm, he’s played concurrently with both Rebirth Brass Band and Galactic. His signature locomotive train blasting trombone stylings defies imitation by even his most accomplished peers.
The Funktet’s music set is an embodiment of the band’s name, featuring a combination of old school New Orleans music, brass bands, funk and mainstream jazz numbers. Henry encourages other musicians to come to Treme and sit in with his band or book a night of their own. “Any artist who wants to perform here should call Ms. Chinee at the Candlelight.”