If there's one city in this nation, or this world for that matter, that is identified by its music, it's New Orleans.
Pre- and post-Hurricane Katrina, the Crescent City is the music city, steeped in a rich history of jazz that screams "party." Millions have flocked to the Big Easy to hear and see music, and sometimes the city, by way of its sound, has come to us.
A band that's a staple of the New Orleans music scene will be here tonight, when the Dirty Dozen Brass Band pulls into the Abbey Theatre. This Durango Acoustic Music production marks the first time the band has been here since 2003. This show is for all ages.
The Dirty Dozen Brass Band has quite the history that dates back to the mid-1970s. That's probably longer than a number of tonight's concert-goers have been alive.
New Orleans Fairview Baptist Church had marching bands that simply served as something positive for kids to do. In 1977, after the demise of the Tornado Brass Band, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band was born. Led by trumpeter and vocalist Gregory Davis, it came along when popularity for brass bands was at an all time low.
It wasn't just a marching band, it was kids with ideas. Those ideas were to incorporate jazz and bebop into their repertoire. Soon it had regular gigs at a club called Daryl's.
Nothing but success followed into the 1980's, as it became popular around the country, and even more popular in Europe.
Its major label debut came in 1987 and featured such jazz luminaries as Dizzy Gillespie, Branford Marsalis and Dr. John. This has set the standard of collaborations, and the band has gone on to record with Elvis Costello, DJ Logic, Norah Jones and many others.
It's also had exposure to the rock 'n' roll crowd through tours with Widespread Panic and The Black Crowes. Its last record was 2006's "What's Going On?" which was a remake of the Marvin Gaye classic, in direct response to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Constant touring and the rigors of the music business have shifted the lineup over the years. The current touring roster is Davis on trumpet and vocals, Roger Lewis on baritone and soprano sax, Kevin Harris on tenor sax, Terence Higgins on drums, Jake Eckert on guitar, Efrem Towns on trumpet and flugelhorn, Julius McKee on sousaphone, and Revert Andrews on trombone.
Mardi Gras isn't Mardi Gras without an official New Orleans band providing the soundtrack. Durango is official this year.
Liggettb@fortlewis.eduBryant Liggett is a freelance writer and program director of KDUR.