by Red Cotton
To Be Continued Brass Band is rolling out their first self-produced self-titled album, a source of major pride for the 10 year old band. Their two other CDs, produced by Blue Train productions, include ‘Magic City’ recorded live at the Howlin Wolf and ‘Modern Times’ recorded live in Austin. TBC Sousaphonist Brenard ‘Bunny’ Adams states proudly, “This is the first (CD) we got a chance to be hands on. The others, we didn’t get a chance to listen good or give any input. With this one, we had a chance to polish it, sign our copyright, get our royalties.” Adds trombonist Edward ‘Juicy’ Jackson, “This one was different for us because we were hands on. From the songs to the money, release date, everything was our call.”
This is also their first recording without their original sax player, founding member Brandon Franklin who was killed on Mother’s Day, May 9, 2010 during a domestic dispute. For the band members, an extremely tight-knit group even for New Orleans standards, the loss of their childhood friend and bandmate was devastating. The CD is dedicated to Brandon, his picture on the inside cover. Evidence of their devotion to him lives on youtube with numerous videos chronicling the 12 day long tribute to him just prior to his funeral and by the fact that the band has performed without a sax player for two years, refusing to even consider filling the spot.
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Last year, saxophonist Paul Chéenne from Caen, France joined the band as a member although TBC does not name him as their saxophonist. When asked to clarify the difference, Jackson stated “Paul is a formal member, we just don’t have a formal sax player member. The band doesn’t like to say we have a sax player. Our sax player died and we haven’t gotten over that. We don’t arrange music with a sax part with it. When I create music, I make snare breaks, bass drum parts, etc.. But I never make a sax part. But we always love to have Paul and he can play sax with us.”
The new CD includes six TBC originals: ‘Numba 2’, ‘ABungo’, ‘Nagin’, ‘TBC Music’, ‘7th Ward Funk’, and ‘To Be Continued’. Additional cuts include ‘Sweet Georgia Brown’ and Bell Biv Devoe’s ‘Poison’. Several notable, locally grown musicians make appearances throughout the production: Big Sam’s Funky Nation trumpeter Andrew Baham; trumpeter and solo artist Shamarr Allen, clarinetist Dr. Michael White, Hot 8 Brass Band’s snare drummer Sammy Cyrus and trumpeter Terrell ‘Burger’ Batiste; Rebirth trumpeter Chad Honore, and rapper Boss Man Superior. And making the production even more remarkable, the entire CD according to Jackson was recorded in one take.
The young band's profile has grown swiftly in the short years since they first organized, half of the band reigning from Carver High School, the other half musicians from Kennedy High. Once recognized worldwide as musical ambassadors at the gateway of the New Orleans’ tourist epicenter on Bourbon and Canal, TBC was forced to abandon the locale that nurtured their early years together after the Landrieu administration took office and began cracking down on street musicians playing in the French Quarter. Since leaving B&C, the band has become a staple on the second line scene as well as a regular act at the Blue Nile and Celebration Hall on St. Bernard and festival favorites at JazzFest and EssenceFest.
Then early last year, TBC got their big break when they were tapped by Rebirth Brass Band to play their Grammy nomination party. Since then, the young band has taken over most if not all of the elder band’s local gigs, allowing Rebirth to focus on touring as well as their staple Tuesday night Maple Leaf gig. With big shoes the likes of Rebirth's to fill, TBC proved its mettle to the city at large last year when they played the Lady Buckjumpers annual second line, marking the end of Rebirth’s 20 plus year tenure of playing the famous parade.
Last Wednesday TBC had an informal record release party at their Wednesday night spot at Celebration Hall which was packed to the rafter with fans, second line club members, and the Hot 8 Brass Band which opened for TBC. They’re planning another record release concert after Mardi Gras at one of the larger New Orleans venues, details to be announced at a later date. The CD will be available online and at local music stores starting Tuesday February 5th. Additionally, the band will be attending the screening tomorrow hosted by DJ Soul Sister at the Antenna Gallery of the documentary ‘Mouthpiece on Back’ which chronicles their struggle to return to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. You can also catch them playing at their weekly Wednesday night gig at Celebration Hall on St. Bernard and late afternoon on Mardi Gras day as they take over for Rebirth Brass Band by playing the traditional Fat Tuesday second line in the Treme.