Mardi Gras 2019 featuring
The Dirty Dozen Brass Band + Cha Wa
with special guest Butcher Brown, plus New Orleans food + drink specials!
61 Wythe Avenue
Brooklyn, NY, 11249
Doors 6:00 PM / Show 7:30 PM
This event is 21 and over
Dirty Dozen Brass Band
Celebrating over 40 years since their founding in 1977, New Orleans-based Dirty Dozen Brass Band has taken the traditional foundation of brass band music and incorporated it into a blend of genres including Bebop Jazz, Funk and R&B/Soul. This unique sound, described by the band as a ‘musical gumbo,’ has allowed the Dirty Dozen to tour across 5 continents and more than 30 countries, record 12 studio albums and collaborate with a range of artists from Modest Mouse to Widespread Panic to Norah Jones. Forty-plus years later, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band is a world famous music machine whose name is synonymous with genre-bending romps and high-octane performances.
Roger Lewis - Baritone Sax/Vocals
Kevin Harris - Tenor Sax/Vocals
Gregory Davis - Trumpet/Vocals
Kirk Joseph - Sousaphone
TJ Norris - Trombone
Julian Addison - Drums/Vocals
Takeshi Shimmura - Guitar
From the funk-laced beats and bass-heavy sousaphone blasts that kick off their album “Spyboy” to the gritty warmth of singer J’Wan Boudreaux’s voice, New Orleans brass band-meets-Mardi Gras Indian outfit Cha Wa radiates the fiery energy of the best features of the city’s street culture. “Spyboy” was produced by Galactic’s Ben Ellman and features special guests Big Chief Monk Boudreaux (The Wild Magnolias, HBO’s Treme), Nigel Hall (Lettuce, Nth Power), and Danica Hart.
Cha Wa’s debut, “Funk N Feathers,” explored contemporary riffs on the traditional music Boudreaux grew up singing alongside his grandfather, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux, in the Golden Eagles Mardi Gras Indian tribe. Now “Spyboy” ups the ante by digging deeper into the sound of New Orleans culture and giving it a modern twist. The disc’s largely original material takes advantage of the band’s new horn section to highlight the musicians’ personal ties to the street music of their hometown. “We wanted to take the roots of what we love about New Orleans brass band music and Mardi Gras Indian music and then voice it in our own way,” says the group’s drummer and founder, Joe Gelini.
Dating back to the late 1800s, the Mardi Gras Indian tradition began when African-American men first marched in Native American dress through the streets of New Orleans on Mardi Gras day. The tradition, which includes a host of songs shared among the various tribes, has been kept alive for over a century and today is as vital as ever. Mardi Gras Indians have influenced the biggest names in New Orleans music: The Meters, Dr. John, the Marsalis family, the Neville Brothers, Trombone Shorty and others. The most prominent Mardi Gras Indian today is Monk Boudreaux, the Big Chief of the Golden Eagles tribe, and his grandson J’Wan Boudreaux (who holds the position of Spyboy in the tribe) is stepping up with Cha Wa to propel their culture forward.
J’Wan joined the group when he was still in high school. At the time, Gelini, then a recent Berklee School of Music grad, had been playing drums for Boudreaux’s grandfather, having learned the traditional Mardi Gras Indian beats from original Wild Magnolias bass drummer Norwood “Geechie” Johnson at Sunday night Indian practices in Uptown New Orleans. As the band evolved, J’Wan emerged as the front man. On “Spyboy,” Boudreaux’s vocals (with support from Thaddeus “Peanut” Ramsey’s smooth-voiced Indian style), the booming, funked-up sound of the band’s new four-part horn section, and Gelini’s mix of second line grooves and soulful Indian rhythms have all combined to kindle a new fire in Cha Wa’s ever-developing sound.
Although “cha wa” means “we’re comin’ for ya” in Indian vernacular, Boudreaux says the album “Spyboy” is “Cha Wa all around” for a different reason. With songwriting contributions to “Spyboy” from band members Joe Maize, Thaddeus ‘Peanut’ Ramsey, Ari Teitel and Clifton ‘Spug’ Smith, along with J’Wan and Gelini, Cha Wa ignites an entire new generation with contemporary anthems set ablaze by its high-flying ensemble. Says Boudreaux, “Everyone put their minds together to make this music. Everyone had input on at least one song. And the whole band has a different type of connection these days. Everybody’s bonded now. Everybody’s just having fun”.
The track “Get On Out the Way” -- with its loose, ‘70s funk rhythm, tight horn parts and deep, bouncing sousaphone -- brings that celebratory vibe to life by spiking a traditional Indian phrase with a fast-moving brass band twist.
There’s also a more serious, social message at work in Cha Wa’s music. Gelini and Monk wrote “Visible Means Of Support” about Monk’s experience with the ‘50s-era Jim Crow vagrancy law used primarily to arrest African-American men. On the J’Wan-penned, big beat-centric “Chapters,” the singer tackles more contemporary issues, in this case, the internal struggles he faced while being raised by a single mom.
The mellow, piano and vocals-only “J’Wan’s story” sees him taking a different approach to bridging the gap between beauty and harsh reality in New Orleans when he explains, spoken word-style, the basics about how and why Mardi Gras Indian culture developed.
“We dress up in the Indian suits to pay homage to the Native American Indians, because around the time of slavery, they were the first ones to take us in,” he says, elaborating on the song. “Everything on our suits is handmade -- the beads, the patterns, we sew together pieces of fabric and make the panels, we make the boots -- everything.”
Not that you need a firm understanding of Indian or brass band culture to feel the dance-ready vibrations of Cha Wa’s new music. “It’s dance music so I think people are attracted to it. Even if people have no idea what the history is, it’s automatically infectious,” Gelini explains. “J’wan’s the next generation,” the drummer adds. “He’s keeping this flame lit.”
with special guest Butcher Brown
Butcher Brown is an up-to-the minute throwback to the great progressive jazz bands of the 60s and 70s. They are a hard-working band in an era where most groups are fleeting assemblages, together only long enough to record. Their organic coherence emerges from long collaboration as a group of equals rather than a top-down, leader/sideman lineup. They are building their audience by any means necessary, combining a conventional, label-oriented approach with releasing “underground” tapes, disciplined rehearsal and engaging, adventurous performance. This musical maturity is surprising in such a youthful band. The players in Butcher Brown were all born after the mid-70s golden age of fusion. But their modern, hip-hop-inflected funk has rich echoes of Weather Report, Return to Forever, early Earth Wind and Fire and, perhaps, a pungent whiff of Zappa. Like those bands, Butcher Brown’s unified sound comes from the intertwined talents of the four members, each bringing something unique to the mix.
Multi-instrumentalist Devonne Harris is arguably, the visionary of this egalitarian band. His responsive keyboard work shapes the harmonic colors through which the music pulses and flows. The son of a DJ, who grew up in in a funk/rock/R&B saturated environment, he’s had a lifetime fascination with what makes a record work. His deep understanding is grounded in phenomenal virtuosity. (In addition to playing keys in Butcher Brown he’s the long-time drummer in John D’earth’s band, Central Virginia’s premiere straight-ahead jazz group.) Under the name DJ Harrison, he’s created a vast catalog of hip hop beats. Jellowstone Records, his home studio, is a pivotal focus of the vital Richmond music scene, with a growing reputation drawing big name visitors including Nicholas Payton. (who recorded his 2014 record “Numbers” there with the band.)DJ Harrison has just released his first solo album on Stonethrow, titled: HazyMoods.
Harris calls bassist Andrew Randazzo the band’s navigator. “He’s the cool one, the calm one. He’s the mortar, binding together the rhythmic and harmonic side of the music. Both onstage and off, he holds everything together and makes everything go smoothly. And he is an amazing player.” In the band’s funk-inflected music, the foundation is foreground; the bass as much a lead as a rhythm instrument.
Drummer Corey Fonville is pure explosive energy. “He’s always ready for battle,” Harris says. “A huge, controlling factor in our sound.” A percussion prodigy turned international jazz sideman, Fonville’s national performance career when he was just 14, with a 2005 appearance on Late Night with David Letterman. In the years since Fonville’s taken his propulsive energy around the world, touring with jazz stars like Christian Scott and Nicholas Payton. He’s the beating heart of Butcher Brown, pumping out fresh, danceable rhythmic complexities are aimed at both the brain and the hips.
Having started playing music in elementary school, and coming from a family of musicians, you could almost say that guitarist Morgan Burrs was destined to lead a life of music.. Picking up the guitar, only 6 years ago, he’s become a force on RVA’s music scene. While in high school, he was awarded full tuition scholarships to go up to Boston and study at Berklee College of Music’s 5 week summer program, which played a key role in Morgan deciding to get a degree in Music. He’s currently a junior at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) studying jazz guitar.
A Richmond native, Marcus Tenney started his musical career at the age of 11. After winning the Louis Armstrong Award in 2003, he began studying trumpet with Dr. Rex Richardson, world-renowned trumpeter and former Joe Henderson sideman at Virginia Commonwealth University. In 2007, Marcus placed third in the National Trumpet Competition. Marcus has played/worked/recorded with artists such as Nicholas Payton, Butcher Brown, Billy Williams, Braxton Cook, Count Bass D, Bon Iver, Matthew E. White, Natalie Prass and many more.
Their recordings to date, the polished soul/funk of “All Purpose Music [Ropeadope] and the 20-track underground groove-laden beats cassette “GrownFolk” provide two great windows into the band’s charms. And the controlled collision of all of these talents makes Butcher Brown a fun band to watch.
Dedicated to innovation, informed by a love of the past, its modernistic fusion is aptly described as “hip hop Mahavishnu.” Impressive as they are individually, together they are something increasingly rare: a real band, playing for their audience and for each other, on the verge of a brilliant future.