On February 12th and 13th, the streets of New Orleans will be overrun by the sites and sounds of Carnival. Horns will blare from every corner, beads will fall like rain, and people throughout town will trade in their worries for costumes until the Ash Wednesday hangover rears its ugly head. Mardi Gras—or Fat Tuesday if you prefer to keep things Anglophone—may seem like a quintessentially New Orleans celebration, but the people of New York City will get their own taste of the party when a slice of the Big Easy comes to the Brooklyn Bowl on Monday, February 12th and Tuesday, February 13th.
Leading the charge will be New Orleans staples Glen David Andrews, the Soul Brass Band, and John Michael Bradford, who are slated to perform that Monday—also known as Lundi Gras. Soul Brass Band will return to the Brooklyn Bowl on Tuesday night, this time with support from Michael Watson Presents: The Alchemy and the James Martin Band. With a lineup like this, it’s safe to say the good times will be rolling just fine over 1,000 miles from the French Quarter.
“We’re gonna bring the spirit of New Orleans to New York City,” says Glen David Andrews. “The thing about New York is that you gotta bring your A game every time you come. No matter who comes to see you or who’s watching, it’s New York. Everything goes, but if I’m coming I need to bring my A game. So I’m not worried about what I’m going to do, I’m worried about whether or not I’ll be able to contain myself and keep from doing too much.”
Glen David Andrews Second Lines Through Manhattan – 6/4/2015
[Video: Marc Millman]
It’s hard to find somebody more New Orleans than Andrews, who hails from a prominent musical family that includes his cousin Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews. Often called the Crown Prince of Treme, Andrews has been rocking the trombone since he was a kid growing up around New Orleans icons like Jessie Hill, Danny Barker, and Tuba Fats. For years, his annual set at Jazz Fest’s Gospel Tent has been the kind of thing that turns tourists into festival regulars, though he’s more than happy to bring his show on the road.
“The thing about New Orleans music is that it carries all over the world,” Andrews explains. “By the time I get to New York, I’m going to have traveled to three countries and more than 25 cities since Christmas. New Orleans music is like a good virus. You catch it and it becomes the music of your soul.”
“I’m very grateful to be headlining the Brooklyn Bowl. I’ve been there several times with my friends Galactic, but this is the first time I’ll be headlining,” he adds. “New York is one of those places that I’ve built my name up over the years, so I can really see how things have changed in my career and in my life. I remember going to New York eight years ago to play Joe’s Pub, and there were eight people there. Now I’m too big, so to speak, to play Joe’s Pub.”
Andrews will be in good company when he brings Mardi Gras to the Brooklyn Bowl later this month. Joining him on the bill for Monday, February 12th—and headlining on Tuesday, February 13th—will be the Soul Brass Band, a relatively new addition to New Orleans’ unique musical landscape. Led by drummer Derrick Freeman, the project came together in 2015 while Freeman was working as a consultant on the video for Cee-Lo Green’s “Music to My Soul”. When the producers asked Freeman to field a brass band for a jazz funeral scene, the Kermit Ruffins & The Barbecue Swingers drummer put together an ad hoc group he dubbed the Soul Brass Band. It’s been nearly three years since that consulting gig, but the band—and the name—have stuck around.
“It won’t take long to bring the spirit of Mardi Gras to New York,” Freeman declares. “We’ll probably having them dancing by the first song, so once that happens the spirit will take over. We have no control over it once we get the ball rolling. It’ll flow through there like wind, I’m ready for it.”
While Andrews comes from long line of both old-school New Orleans innovators and traditionalists, Freeman and the Soul Brass Band have a decidedly modern take on the New Orleans sound. They can play the stuff everyone knows, of course. They just might throw a Juvenile, Snoop Dogg or Nirvana cover in there to keep the crowd on its toes.
Soul Brass Band – Nirvana’s “In Bloom” – Bayou Boogaloo – 5/21/2016
[Video: AB Garrod]
“People always ask me if I’m missing Mardi Gras, and I’m not really missing it because it’s Mardi Gras right now. I played four parades this week,” Freeman says with a laugh. “But this is the third year in a row that I’ll be out of town on Mardi Gras Day, and it’s fine because I like bringing the spirit of it to other places. I like letting them experience what we experience, or at least a little bit of it anyway.”
A little bit of Mardi Gras is exactly what Andrews, Freeman, and company will be offering when they take over the Brooklyn Bowl. Whether you’re a curious New Yorker or a New-Orleanian-in-exile, a little bit of Mardi Gras might be just the thing your soul is looking for. After all, it was 1949 when the great Professor Longhair famously sang, “If you go to New Orleans, you ought to go see the Mardi Gras.” This year, however, New Yorkers won’t have to travel that far to get a taste of the magic.
Tickets for the Brooklyn Bowl’s upcoming Mardis Gras Monday and Fat Tuesday celebration on Monday, February 12th, and Tuesday, February 13th are on-sale now. You can snag a two-day pass to the event here, or individually purchase Monday and Tuesday tickets. You can also check out Glen David Andrews’ upcoming tour dates ahead of his arrival in New York City below or on his website here.
Enter To Win A Pair Of Tickets To Brooklyn Bowl’s Mardi Gras Celebrations (Your Show of Choice)!