The Krewe du Vieux – Early but Right in Time
14th January 2013 · 0 Comments
By Geraldine Wyckoff
“The Krewe du Vieux Comes Early,” is an apt theme for this parade. The procession, favored by fans of brass bands and satirical, sometimes sexy and often hilarious sub-krewes and mule-drawn floats, rolls ahead of time on Saturday, January 19, because of the Super Bowl. It takes off at 6:30 p.m.from 2830 Royal Street with the highly-respected and admired Bethany Bultman, the executive director of the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic, reigning as its queen.
The parade, which heads up Royal Street and returns to the Marigny via Decatur Street with 19 bands goin’ at it, offers the opportunity to hear and compare some of the city’s finest and newest brass bands all in one great night. Established groups like the Stooges and Hot 8 brass bands, which are also performing at the after-party dubbed the Krewe du Vieux Doo, and who could be considered mock rivals at social aid and pleasure club parades, will be struttin’ their stuff. Meanwhile some of the younger bands look forward to getting further exposure and name recognition from their performance on the streets.
One such group is the One Mind Brass Band that makes its third appearance at the Krewe du Vieux parade. Formed in 2008 by leader/trumpeter Elbert Williams, the One Mind is one of the youngest bands playing in the eclectic krewe’s event.
Williams wasn’t really familiar with the parade when he and the nine-member ensemble initially stepped out with the Krewe du Vieux in 2011. “It was exciting once we got out there and saw everybody,” Williams exclaims, adding that it was particularly great to see all their friends from other brass bands. “We had a lot of fun through the whole parade.”
In 2012, the One Mind, whose members are in their mid- to late 20s, were even chosen to get on stage to play at the “Doo.” As other groups finishing the parade entered the party venue, he remembers, the whole thing turned into “one, big old brass band.”
Williams had never blown trumpet in a brass band before he formed the One Mind. His musical experience came as a member of the Sarah T. Reed High School Marching Olympians and the Southern University Human Jukebox.
“The purpose (to start the band) was loving the music,” says Williams, 24. “I love to play music – it comforts me.”
Other members have been heard on the streets with such groups as the Rebirth, Hot 8, Free Agents, Kinfolk and Young Fellaz brass bands and/or have family ties in the brass community such as One Mind trombonist Authur Agee, the nephew of Rebirth trombonist Stafford Agee. As always, the tight-knit brass band community likes to mix things up.
The One Mind Brass Band has some experience under its belt. This Mardi Gras stands as the third year that it will be in the Zulu Parade when it marches with the Tramps. The group will also play the French Quarter Festival for the third time in its short history. The first and only time that the One Mind hit the streets to play a social aid and pleasure club anniversary parade was in 2011 with the Lady Rollers though it definitely looks forward to being invited to more. Working on original material is a priority with the band. Its tune, “Po Boy,” has already hit the streets, the clubs and the web.
“We’re trying; we’re pushin’ for the crown,” Williams enthusiastically says of the One Mind’s ambitions. “We want the crown – that’s our motto.”
There’s nothing quite like the Krewe du Vieux parade because there’s no place like New Orleans where brass bands are a sound of life.
“It’s a good feeling to have all those people screamin’ and dancin’ to the sounds that you’re making as you’re going through the Quarter,” Williams exclaims. “I get a happy feeling just to see the happy faces.”
For more information on the parade and party go to www.kreweduvieux.org.
Jazz Journey Sings
Gregory Porter, an on-the rise vocalist who brings jazz sensibilities to rhythm and blues and soul sensibilities to jazz, arrives to headline Friday night’s, January 18, Jazz Journey concert series at Dillard University’s Lawless Chapel. The California-born, Brooklyn resident, whose career was boosted in part by his association with jazz flautist Hubert Laws, is nominated in 2013 for a Grammy in the Best Traditional R&B Performance for his song “Real Cool Hands.” The singer’s debut album, 2010’s Water, impressed and gained him a nomination for a Grammy in the Best Jazz Vocal category. Porter, who, incidentally, was in town last July to record a melodic version of poet Ishmael Reed’s “Monster Love” for saxophone giant David Murray’s upcoming release, will be bringing in his own fine group for the free performance.
The affable vocalist Barbara Morrison, who’s had a long career singing classic modern jazz laced with scat in front of a legion of renowned jazz artists, will be backed for her Jazz Journey set by an outstanding, all-New Orleans band with pianist Thaddeus Richard, drummer Herlin Riley, bassist Roland Guerin and guitarist Detroit Brooks.
Our own trumpeter Porgy Jones, a musician well-known on the jazz scene for decades, opens the Friday night concert that is presented by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation as a celebratory kickoff to the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. Jones’ set begins early at 6:30 p.m.
This article was originally published in the January 14, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper