After the perfect day we had Saturday, we finished the weekend with a perfect Sunday. Again, the weather was warm and sunny with a constant balmy breeze. Breakfast was Camellia Grill in the French Quarter. Gotta love those grits and the service (complete with fist-bumps) always puts a smile on my face. Then it was off to Armstrong Park for the Revolution Social Aid and Pleasure Club’s second line. We found Briana Edwards of Raintree Children and Family Services in the crowd of steppers and jumpers then followed along. Loved the snappy school kid costumes the paraders wore.
The wonderful TBC Brass Band provided the music wearing “Free Sean Payton” t-shirts. We ran into DancingMan504 and spotted Kermit Ruffins recording the parade on his iPad again. The band kept a super-swift pace and took no breaks for an hour and a half. Amazing. For more about second lines and what they are, click here.
When the band finally rested, we booked back to Armstrong Park to attend the Class Got Brass battle of the bands. The distinguished panel of judges (finally found the right time to use that phrase) included Shamarr Allen, Dr. Michael White, Trombone Shorty, Derrick Tabb, Brice Miller, Virgil Tiller, Gregory Davis, Greg Stafford, Sammie Williams and Ben Jaffe. The judges sat on the balcony above Golden Feather. That fabulous Mardi Gras Indian restaurant continues to find ways to enrich the community.
The battle may have had a number of songs repeated, but the kids worked hard for the money and it was great to see the tradition alive in another generation. Competing were Chalmette, Edna Karr, Eleanor McMain, Fannie C. Williams, KIPP McDonogh #15 Middle School, Lafayette Academy, L. W. Higgins, Martin Behrman, McDonough #35, O. Perry Walker, Riverdale Middle School, Salmen, Sophie B. Wright, St. Mary’s, St. Tammany Jr. High School, Warren Easton and West Jefferson High School.
I was happy watching from the neutral ground, but I said hello to Shaka Zulu, proprietor of Golden Feather, and he invited us to watch the rest of the battle from the balcony. Who am I to refuse a kindness, so up we went and found a place behind the judges. Though, in reality, we had to wait hours to hear the winners, I’ll skip to the punchline. Third place for $4000 toward instruments – McDonogh #35. In second for $6000, O. Perry Walker and first place and $10,000 went to KIPP McDonogh #15 Middle School.
Then we ran across the street to catch Stooges Brass Band at the Congo Square Rhythms Festival. It’s amazing how much great music this city can pack not a day. The food booths were running low, but we did manage to get the last small spoonful of rice for the Red Beans and Rice with Smoked Sausage and Homemade Hot Sausage from Li’l Dizzy’s ($7). Though they were out of their Crowder Peas and Okra, we did get a plate of collard greens and some rice from the Praline Connection ($6).
After refueling, we ran into my Django Unchained co-star, Dennis Christopher, fresh from the Stella! contest at the Tennessee Williams Festival. His photos were priceless. Then we found Django Unchained producer, Reggie Hudlin, another castmate, Daniéle Watts and her friend, Erica Dasher, from ABC Family’s Jane by Design.
Next onstage, Partners N Crime impressed with their ability to move from rap to ragtime without batting an eye. a highlight was when a talented young lady (who I recognized but couldn’t place) came out to rap in her adorable tutu.
Then it was time for my second Rebirth concert in less than 24 hours. There were problems with the mics and problems with the lights, but they are always amazing. Daniéle and Erica had to leave early to join a ghost tour but Reggie bopped his head until they pulled the plug. Saturday, Reggie had experienced the Mardi Gras Indians and got to cross that off his bucket list after over 30 years. In 1992, Reggie released his Eddie Murphy hit, Boomerang with Rebirth’s Feel Like Funkin’ It Up on the soundtrack. I think it was a cousin of his that had told him about the band. Now, 20 years later, he finally got to see them play live. Another bucket list item crossed off in just one weekend. And, like when he got to meet Big Chief Fi Yi Yi Saturday, he got to finally shake hands with one of the band members, snare drummer Derrick Tabb. If Reggie stays here much longer, he might just run out of bucket list.
March Madness has begun as evidenced by the action-packed weekend. I look forward to all that’s to come this action-packed weekend!
Revolution second line video:
Class Got Brass video: