Rebirth Brass Band

The Rebirth Brass Band is aptly named: the Grammy-winning group has led the New Orleans brass band revival over the past 30-plus years, and has become one of the city’s most treasured institutions along the way. With hits like “Feel Like Funkin’ It Up” and “Do Whatcha Wanna,” Rebirth’s signature sound has become synonymous with contemporary brass band music, and emblematic of the city’s resilience and energy.

Rebirth was founded in 1983 by brothers Philip and Keith Frazier, Kermit Ruffins, and friends from the Treme neighborhood. The Dirty Dozen had just begun to revitalize the city’s moribund brass band tradition; Rebirth set out to launch it into the next century by incorporating funk, jazz, pop, and hip hop into traditional New Orleans street rhythms, stoking their audiences with infectious dance-based grooves. Their success inspired a new generation of bands like The Hot 8, New Birth, and Soul Rebels. When not touring around the globe, they continue to hold down a legendary Tuesday night slot at Uptown’s Maple Leaf Bar and remain an in-demand band at festivals, second lines, and other events.

Rebirth became a staple on the local club and second line scenes, attracting a younger, invigorated crowd delighted with their energetic originals (“We Come to Party,” “Who’s Rockin’, Who’s Rollin’?”), reworked New Orleans standards, covers by the likes of Chuck Brown and Michael Jackson (“Bustin Loose,” “Shake Your Body Down to the Ground”), and collaborations with contemporary artists (Cheeky Blakk, Soulja Slim).

Rebirth’s current roster and alumni boast an impressive array of musicians. Current members include Keith Frazier, Chadrick Honore, Glenn Hall III, Gregory Veals, Stafford Agee, Vincent Broussard, Jenard Andrews, and Clifton “Spug” Smith. Alumni include Ruffins, Phil Frazier, Derrick Tabb (founder of the Roots of Music youth program), Glen David Andrews, Glen Andrews, Corey Henry, Shamarr Allen, Derrick Shezbie, Revert “Peanut” Andrews, and Roderick Paulin, among others. Many are related - brothers, cousins, sons - keeping the sense of family tight.

After Hurricane Katrina, the Rebirth Brass Band was one of the first groups to return to perform in the city, commuting from as far away as Dallas to bring healing and inspiration to flood-weary rebuilders, and they are credited with preserving and revitalizing New Orleans’  street music culture in the face of post-storm government antagonism and regulation.

Producer David Simon wove the Rebirth into the HBO series Treme, featuring their music, incorporating performers as characters, and adapting real-life band events (e.g., a confrontation with police during a memorial performance and Derrick Tabb’s Roots of Music youth program) to the show’s storyline. The Rebirth has also been featured on “NCIS,” and “The Originals.” Derrick Tabb is the star of the 2013 documentary The Whole Gritty City, about the Roots of Music’s program.

The band has released nearly 20 albums and singles, and appears on numerous compilations. In 2012, their album Rebirth of New Orleans won a Grammy for Best Regional Roots Music Album. They have also gathered numerous Best of the Beat and Big Easy awards, and had a beer named after them by a local brewery. Sales raised over $75,000 for the Roots of Music.

In 2007 Derrick Tabb and a friend founded the Roots of Music, a non-profit organization sponsoring an award-winning after-school program for at-risk children ages 9–14 attending school in Orleans Parish. The students are mentored by members of the Rebirth Brass Band and other local New Orleans musicians and educators.


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