He asked the audience if they were ready for some New Orleans music, if they were ready to have a good time and dance, and then encouraged them to get up and do it.
The packed house, consisting of just about every age and ethnic demographic, honored that agreement.
For almost a full 90 minutes, eight songs, and one encore later, the eight piece Grammy-winning ensemble that’s been entertaining music supporters around the globe since 1983 stepped off the stage as if they had just left a boxing match and won by TKO.
From start to finish people were dancing and singing in the aisles. Rarely did anyone leave the room. At one point, I saw a woman dancing with her man, as she raised an empty glass in the air while looking around for a waiter to come fill it. Perhaps, she wanted another drink — the drink named especially after the RBB’s song, “Do Whatcha Wanna,” which they were selling that night for $9.
The vibe was indeed high energy. I’m almost exhausted just reliving and recounting the evening’s activities. And there was no need to ask if the RBB’s mojo was workin’. It was working extremely well on that enthusiastic crowd that overall seemed to be more interested in dancing than eating or drinking.
The band opened with the Ray Charles tune, “I Got a Woman.” Immediately heads were nodding along to the music.
Here, it was all about trombonist and percussionist Gregory Veals. He played slide trombone as well as a mini selection consisting of a small drum pad, mini tambourine, and other musical gadgets. Veals made me wish I had brought along my pink tambourine to play. I wouldn’t dare, but I admit the thought crossed my mind and made me smile for a moment.
From there, the band picked up steam as they seemingly winged it without a set list.
RBB played three songs from their new Basin Street Records album, Move Your Body, which included “Rebirth Makes You Dance,” “Rebirth Groove,” and “Texas Pete.”
Somewhere along the way, one of the band members announced that the new album was currently in second on Billboard’s jazz albums chart.
There was only one time I noticed a few concert-goers clapping off beat, and that was during the song about Honre’s ex-girlfriend. He sang, “I used to love her/but it’s all over now.”
No one seemed to care. It was all good. Saxophonist Vincent Broussard’s resilient solo brought everyone back to the one. And trumpeter Derrick Shezbie also wowed the crowd with his own ambitious solo.
For their part, the band’s co-founding brothers Phillip and Keith Frazier, on tuba and bass drum respectively, contributed something vibrant to the mix, but mostly let everyone else in the band shine.
During the encore, “When the Saints Go Marchin’ In,” Honre invited the ladies in the audience to join the band onstage. That was a wild scene.
To conclude, Honre encouraged the audience to check out and support the nonprofit The Roots of Music that helps kids through music education, mentoring, and academic support, which has a deep waiting list of young people eager to be a part of the program. He even gave out a text number people could use to donate money (text ROOTS to 88588 to donate any amount).
In the end, I had two immediate thoughts. One, they really need to be at our Twin Cities Jazz Festival, or the Selby Avenue Jazz Festival, any local festival. Two, RBB would be the perfect band to help First Lady Michelle Obama with her “Let’s Move” campaign, as this band certainly knows how to get people to move their bodies.
From the streets to the big venues around the world, the RBB is well-known for blending traditional New Orleans brass band music with the New Orleans tradition of second line along with jazz, soul, funk, and hip hop. And now after Thursday’s second-set performance, the people of the Twin Cities who witnessed the band in action won’t forget it.
The people’s band, as they like to call themselves, is here to stay.
Robin James welcomes reader responses at [email protected].