New Orleans’ legendary Treme Brass Band has played magical music for decades and is beloved from the Treme & French Quarter to France and around the world. The men of Treme are survivors. They escaped the ravages of Hurricane Katrina, helping rebuild New Orleans through their incredible music. They also survived the loss of their leader, the iconic Uncle Lionel Batiste, who passed away in 2012. But just as a true New Orleans funeral leads to a second-line party, the show and the music must go on.
Treme Brass Band plays as much as they can. They’ve gained fans around the world via the HBO show “Treme” as well as an appearance in Spike Lee’s New Orleans documentary “When The Levees Broke.”
And every week they have two residencies in New Orleans, one on Tuesdays at d.b.a. on Frenchmen Street near the French Quarter and the other on Wednesdays at the famous Candlelight Lounge in the Treme And that’s just for starters – you can catch them at other shows, festivals and second-lines all around town. Especially, of course, during Mardi Gras.
Benny Jones Sr. wouldn’t have it any other way. Taking over as Treme’s leader with the death of Uncle Lionel, Mr. Benny knows, like the band and New Orleans itself, the musical traditions of the city must survive as well.
He tells NPR’s Weekend Edition:
“Still need somebody to do the traditional music so we can pass that to the younger generation. Somebody got to hold that spot down.”
That includes leading dancers through the streets to mourn and celebrate. The band stays rooted in the customs of an earlier era, such as a dress code. “Sound good, look good,” says Jones. “My band always had the black pants, white shirts, ties, coats. That’s a New Orleans tradition. What the older bands did years ago.”