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Brass With Bite

The ReBirth Brass Band takes you down to the Big Easy


By this point it’s pretty much official: The Summer of 2000 is the one that residents of Missoula and outlying areas are going to look back on in years to come and say, “Yeah, I was there. Fires, smoke, riots…even an earthquake. We survived damn near everything.”

My personal improvisation on this theme has been to catch a blue-ribbon, Stage Four, All-State varsity letterman case of schistosome dermatitis, better known as “swimmer’s itch,” a ferocious freshwater rash you pick up when you get between trematode larval flukes and their preferred meal of waterfowl and small mammals. I got mine at Yellow Bay, henceforth forever to be known as “Itchypoo Park,” and believe you me there is slim comfort to be taken in the fact that the little bastards were aiming for a duck. My back and torso look like they’ve been dipped in leprosy and rolled in ringworm, and They‘ say the itch can last for up to a week. Pull over to the curb if you see me waving money around on the street, because I’m trying to get someone to douse me in kerosene and set me on fire.

Hey now, you don’t have to volunteer that fast, for crying out loud! My point is that I, you, and probably a lot of people you know could use a vacation from this earthly paradise. Let’s pretend we’re somewhere else, and why not New Orleans? The Big Easy, home of American voodoo and brass that bites. Let’s go one better and pretend we’re at the Maple Leaf Bar on a Tuesday night, sipping Dayglo drinks with little umbrellas and big French names and checking out the ReBirth Brass Band, who own this place every Tuesday night.

Some of these guys in here, they’ve known the ReBirth Brass Band since they were eight high school students beating up and down Bourbon Street, circa 1983. Some of them will tell you that ReBirth is the band that kicked off the entire brass band craze down here, and it’s hard to argue with that because almost every other brass band in town has got at least one member who spent time in ReBirth.

Wasn’t that a Parliament song they were kicking around just now? Yeah, and before that it was “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” by Charlie Parker and Herbie Hancock’s “Chameleon.” I’m with you, that’s one of the funkiest damn songs ever written, but whose idea was it to squeeze in the theme from “The Andy Griffith Show?” Quincy Jones should be checking this out—oh, hey, he’s sitting right over there. Man, I dig that theme from “Sanford and Son.”

Are you sorry we came? Yeah, it sure is, and it ain’t even a dry heat like we’ve got back home. You could have stayed in Montana and bought this record. It’s called Live at the Maple Leaf, and it’s as bona fide New Orleans as those spicy pieces of mud bug stuck under your fingernails. But what I was thinking was that you and I, we’d have more fun taking this trip together.

The ReBirth Brass Band plays the Black Star Beer Barter in Whitefish this Friday evening. A Saturday show at Fort Missoula has been cancelled, but the show Whitefish is FREE! Call 1-406-863-1000 for more information.

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