"The Tuesday night Rebirth gig at the Maple Leaf has iconographic standing in the lore of New Orleans nightlife... Something you can count on. No need to consult a schedule.
Long before Katrina, the Rebirth shows at Maple Leaf were where I'd drop in from time to time to remind myself why I live here, why I love here. Why I am here.
For the uninitiated (and if that's you, shouldn't you ask yourself why?) the Rebirth Brass Band is one of the veteran standard bearers of the New Orleans brass-band renaissance and I realize that if you ask me what that means, well . . . I don't know. What is New Orleans brass-band music? Got me. Jazz, I guess, in its basic DNA. Layered with rock influences. Smothered in hip-hop beat and attitude. All rolled together in a scary marching band.
It is an explosion of sound, just drums and horns -- who needs anything else, really? -- and it is the sound of Mardi Gras, of second-lines, street parades and house parties. Of New Orleans.
The Rebirth Tuesday night gigs have been colossal draws for years, crowded, sweaty, throbbing, disorganized affairs packed with Tulane students, downtown hipsters, stiff-collar types and soul brothers.
It is so energetic, so in the groove, so diverse and so perfect that it almost looks contrived, like if a director wanted to create the quintessential bar scene for a movie, this is what he would make.
But Hollywood could never make this. Not on a Tuesday night. And not in any other town.
It's organic. Sexy. Maybe even mildly dangerous -- all that sweat. In the ultimate act of self-absorption, I'm going to quote myself, from a tourist guidebook I wrote several years ago, trying to capture a moment at one of these shows: "Loud. Fast. Free-falling. Funky. You've got 10 new friends. The girl in your arms -- what's her name? Who cares? Dance. If you saw yourself in a mirror at this instant, you wouldn't recognize
yourself. And that can be a good thing."
I couldn't say it any better myself. And this past Tuesday night, that's what it was. Good medicine. Like I knew it would be.
"Bounce" is the name of another kind of New Orleans music, our unique and commercially successful ghetto rap scene, but it should be the name for brass-band music, too. Because that's what you end up doing. Bouncing.
It's impossible not to. If you can't dance to this, you are on life support or maybe already dead.
If I don't feel better after doing this, I told myself on the way to the Maple Leaf, then I am irretrievable.
But I did. In the thick of a too-hot crowd full of strangers and old friends, watching 10, 11, maybe a dozen guys packed on a too-small stage under bare light bulbs and a pressed-tin ceiling, feeling the release of the fist-thrusting call-and-response, staring into a wall of horns whose music is so muscular that it almost takes on a physical manifestation and reaches out and beats you about the head and grabs your collar and screams in your face: "You are ALIVE, boy! DO YOU UNDERSTAND?" And I do. And I am home again."
- Chris Rose (read the full article here)