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Inaugural Tremé Festival to benefit St. Augustine Church

29th September 2015   ·   0 Comments

By Geraldine Wyckoff
Contributing Writer

With rust flowing down like tears from the decorative, second floor window grates, the St. Augustine Catholic Church has long appeared to be crying. The reason for the mournful look of this historic 6th Ward place of worship has been neglect.

Proceeds from the debut of this weekend’s Tremé Festival (October 2-4), presented by the Historic Faubourg Tremé Association (HFTA), will benefit St. Augustine and hopefully wash away those teardrops. The aim is for the money brought in by the fest, along with contributions from corporations, non-profit organizations, local businesses and others, will be put towards much-needed exterior and interior work on this important building that stands as the oldest African-American Catholic Parish in the United States.

A patron’s party kicks off the festival on Friday from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. at North Rampart Street’s George and Joyce Wein Jazz & Heritage Center.

The free, musically Tremé-centric, outdoor, food and fun part of the event begins on Saturday at noon on streets adjoining the church. A large stage will be set up on the corner of Henriette Delille Street (formerly St. Claude St.) and Ursulines Avenue. Food, beverage and merchandise booths will be lined up on nearby Governor Nicholls Street.



What makes Saturday’s line-up so special is that all of the artists are affiliated with the Tremé neighborhood – they live or have lived there, have close relatives that are natives of the 6th Ward and thus have been influenced by and/or have honed their chops in the Tremé.

As exhibited at a recent Jazz in the Park show where the Tremé Brass Band and Corey Henry’s Tremé Funktet rocked the world, when neighborhood musicians play in front of neighbors – especially when it comes to the close Tremé community – magic happens. The same is expected for Saturday’s street show that begins with a parade with the Roots of Music, the youthful marching band led by drummer Derrick Tabb (kin to the Andrews family), the Zulu Connection, Mardi Gras Indians and stilt walkers.

At 12:30 p.m., the Tremé connection really kicks in with trumpeter Lil Glen & Backatown (led by Glen Hall, another talent kin to the Andrews), followed at 1 p.m. by vocalist John Boutte (composer of “Down in the Tremé, just me and my baby…”).

Up next is one of the comparatively “new” neighborhood residents, trumpeter Leroy Jones, who strikes up at 2 p.m.. The Tremé Brass Band led by drummer and neighborhood icon Benny Jones gets going at 3 p.m. followed at 4 p.m. by the “King of the Tremé,” drummer and vocalist Shannon Powell. He’ll have no excuse if he turns up late as he lives just down the street from the action. The New Breed Brass Band – on at 5 p.m. – is led by drummer Jenard Andrews, the son of trumpeter/vocalist James Andrews. Trumpeter/vocalist Kermit Ruffins, whose shows at nearby music clubs like Joe’s Cozy Corner, the Little People’s Place (still a great spot but no music – gentrification, ya know), the Caldonia that became Trombone Shorty’s are legendary. Ruffins, who hits at 6 p.m., owned a coupla Tremé hotspots himself.

James Andrews & the Crescent City Allstars take it out Tremé style beginning at 7 p.m.. So what makes “Tremé style” distinctive and so identifiable?

“It’s got that kick and a feistiness to it and it also has that second line beat in it whatever we play– jazz, R&B,” James Andrews offers. “It goes back to the rhythm of Congo Square – it all goes back to the root – the African influence mixed in with the New Orleans flavor. The feeling you get when you’re in the Tremé,” Andrews continues, “it’s just a different feeling musically and spiritually. It’s family oriented and we expect people in the neighborhood to be at the show. Everybody coming together for a good old Tremé time.”

Sunday’s musical focus will be on gospel music beginning with a Gospel Mass at 10 am at St. Augustine. (It would be advisable to arrive there early in order to get a seat.) The Rhodes Gospel Extravaganza follows at noon at the Ursulines/Henriette Delille stage with St. Anna’s Gospel Choir, the St. Augustine Choir, the Zion Harmonizers and more.

Naturally, at this family-oriented event, there will be activities for children during both days of the festival.

For more information go, to www.tremé

Fall Is Here – Nickel-A-Dance Is Back

As the always-enthusiastic Shannon Powell would put it, “Wooow!” the Nickel-A-Dance classic New Orleans jazz series is celebrating its 21st anniversary. The drummer and vocalist, who on October 4 headlines the first of the weekly Sunday events, leads his aptly named Traditional All-Stars that includes trumpeter Kevin Lewis, trombonist David Hart, reedman Christian Winthers, pianist Lars Edegran and bassist Mitchell Player.

These are truly “no excuses” shows as they start early at 4 p.m. at Frenchmen Street’s Maison, there is no cover charge and they are family-friendly. There are seats for the elders happy to just listen to some fine music and a big dance floor for those who enjoy doing a jitterbug, some second line moves or a waltz. Since the performances are in the evening, before Frenchmen Street gets busy, onstreet parking is readily available. The series continues through October 25 with banjoist/guitarist Don Vappie & the Creole Serenaders wrapping things up. Beyond good music, the shows are lots of fun.

Funkmaster George Clinton Bops Into the House of Blues

“It blew people’s minds,” singer, bandleader, producer, composer and funkmaster George Clinton once remembered about the first time he and Funkadelic appeared in New Orleans. It was 1976 at the Saenger Theater and the now-legendary, funkified ensemble premiered its earth-moving classic, “One Nation Under a Groove.” “We got our own minds blown,” he then added with a laugh. “After that, we didn’t stop moving at all.”



Clinton, who performs with Parliament Funkadelic at the House of Blues on Saturday, October 3, has returned to this city with his prankster-filled orchestra many times since then. The leader of the funk pack got down at the House of Blues in 2012, and the Essence Festival in 2011 and provided a memorable night years ago at Tip’s when even trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis wandered into the ever-rotating band of musicians.

“If the parents say, ‘I hate that music,’ that’s the music I’d be looking for,” Clinton once said of his early years. He offers deeper insight into his remarkable career and philosophy in his autobiography, Brothas Be, Yo Like George, Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard on You? written in his own voice with the aid of Ben Greenman.

“I’m really partial to coming down there,” Clinton has said of New Orleans. “You can really go funky.”

Don’t miss the legends.

This article originally published in the September 28, 2015 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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