There are a number of Louisiana musicians appearing this evening through next Wednesday—Nathan & the Zydeco Cha-Chas are at Glen Echo tonight; trumpeter Christian Scott is at Rams Head on Stage in Annapolis tonight; and the Rebirth Brass Band are at the State Theater next Wednesday. But the most exciting Bayou State concert may be on Saturday, when New Orleans’ Hot 8 Brass Band comes to the Prince George’s Publick Playhouse in Cheverly, Md. Formed in 1995, this jazzy, hip-hop- and funk-inflected horn combo has undergone its share of tragedies—the death of four members (two of them were shot and killed), and the emotional devastation of Hurricane Katrina. These parade and jazz funeral vets are survivors: In recent years they’ve released the album Rock with the Hot 8 (2007), guested on the Blind Boys of Alabama‘s Down in New Orleans CD (2008), and were featured in Spike Lee’s documentary When the Levees Broke. I e-mailed tuba player Bennie Pete about the group.
Washington City Paper: Are you all based in New Orleans? (Did any of you go to Houston or Atlanta after Katrina and not return)
Bennie Pete: Yeah we are still based in New Orleans. A few people went to Atl and Houston but we are all in the city now.
WCP: Who is in the band and what instrument do they play?
BP: First on trumpet(3 players) Terrell Batiste,Julian Gosin and Raymond Williams; on trumbone(2 players) Corey Peyton and Gregory Veals; on tenor sax John Gilbert; on tuba Bennie Pete; on snare drum Sammy Cyrus; and on bass drum Terence Andrews.
WCP: Do you have a new CD or mixtape out?
BP: The new CD is finished and getting mastered. Now it should come out for the anniversary of Katrina, maybe the end of August. But there are some live recordings of us out.
WCP: Where have you toured lately?
BP: Mainly the east coast from Florida on up to New York but we are on the way to the west in a week or so.
WCP: Is it hard with the economy to get many New Orleans gigs (and gigs elsewhere)?
BP: It’s not hard to get the gigs but it’s hard to get paid your value or close to it at home. But it’s better respect and appreciation for us in the music on the road that brings along more money.
WCP: Are you able to do secondline parades in New Orleans without the authorities trying to stop you?
BP: It’s so so with the 2nd line. The police don’t want it because it’s too many people in one area, and the crime rate is out of control so they made the street taxes triple and if you don’t have a permit they will stop you.
WCP: Are you in the upcoming HBO Treme TV show?
BP: No we are not in the Treme movie. They are not paying the musicians enough money to do it and they are just like a lot of people who came to the city after the storm. They say we don’t have much money but we can get you a lot of exposure and we can help tell the world your story and then smile and tap you on your back and send you home broke to your family.
WCP: How about Dem Saints?
BP: Go Saints, the best team won and it brung joy to everybody in the city from grandparents to their grandchildren.
Hot 8 Brass Band Saturday March 27 for two concerts—11 a.m. kids/family lecture/demonstration show ($5-$10) and 7:30 full gig ($10) at the Prince George’s Publick Playhouse for the Performing Arts, 5445 Landover Road, Cheverly, MD 20784 (301) 277-1710