October 20, 2004

Leo Nocentelli at the Blue Moon Saloon and the Rebirth Brass Band elsewhere

Just reporting in on some gigs I caught recently in my new hometown. I'm not reviewing them because I didn't go in a "critical listening" frame of mind and had no intent other than to catch some funk. The BMS probably had 60-70 people in it and holds maybe 100 tops, if "holds" is the right word for a place that is really a covered patio/deck area attached to the Blue Moon Hostel just outside of downtown Lafayette, LA. It's almost like hearing the band play in your backyard there. Mr. Nocentelli got down to it with Chris Severin on bass (one of NOLA's premier players) and a drummer from New Yawk named Adrian (?). Leo seemed to dig it, too. He did two sets and three encores for us movin' groovin' deck hands.

Sure, Leo can go a little Yngwie on the soloing at times; but he wasn't overbearing at all. He seemed outright relaxed, sitting on a stool most of the night, playing a Gibson 335. The grooves were generous. Chris got in some good solo shots, too. The night air was cool. And the Guinness was smooth. They did mostly Meters tunes, plus other Leo originals like, "The Hype and the Hoopla".

That was last Friday night, October 15. I'm enjoying life in Lafayette, having heard a lot of live music here. The week before Leo, I saw The Rebirth Brass Band play at a college dive called The Keg (of course) right off the ULL campus, where pre-gig you get to hear Kansas on the sound system, for God's sake, like the century's turn and prior two decades never happened. The 'birth came out blowing strong, getting most of the frat/sorority/ jock crowd to pay attention and move up front to the bandstand, until three songs into the set, when the fire department came in for some reason and conferred with the club's manager. The band was stopped for about 15 minutes until the FD left as mysteriously as they came; and then the party began again. While the best place to catch Rebirth to me is in the streets and/or clubs of New Orleans, it is amazing and inspirational how they (and other great touring brass bands, like the Dirty Dozen) can bring that second line street party vibe into a beer guzzling den of youthful oblivion and iniquity, spring it on the mostly unsuspecting crowd, and sweep them up in it. That's the powa of the Home of the Groove. When I walked into the club that night, a kid behind me asked the guy working the door if the band would be throwin' down. And the guy says, "I don't know. I've never heard of 'em. " Wonder what he'll answer next time? Carry on my wayward sons.....

I'll shut up now. Coming real soon.....Allen Toussaint-produced funky divas.....


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