Although our band rehearsed for the first time on the 7th October 2016, we began as a concept for a module of our studies at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance; ‘CoLab’ is a two week long study period in the middle of February, in which students and teachers partake in collaborative projects with students from other departments.
Each project is allocated a performance slot – we were allocated a site specific performance on Friday 17th at he Laban premises.
We began our performance in the foyer with ‘Bourbon Street Parade’, a New Orleans traditional, before parading around the building for a further ten to fifteen minutes playing songs such as ‘Just A Closer Walk With Thee’, ‘Lil Liza Jane’ and ‘Down By The Riverside’. Our performance ended with a further stationary performance in the foyer.
Despite having not yet had the input of our mentor, Malcolm Earle-Smith, we had already developed a strong rapport and a good understanding of the music. This, combined with our excitement to be leaving to New Orleans only a few days later, made for an enthusiastic and energetic performance!
First of all, a MASSIVE THANK YOU to everyone who has supported us and helped us to raise over £4000 towards our project. Without you, none of this would be possible. We love you!
Secondly, good news – We’re all set! Flights booked, hotel booked…what next?
We’d like to hear from YOU.
The main aim of our trip is to return to London with a piece of New Orleans, archived here for your learning and reading/viewing pleasure. We’d like to hear what you want to learn about New Orleans, second line and the music tradition in the homeland of jazz. Who would you like us to interview? What would you like to read about? Any ideas for video blogs? We want to make this trip as educational and rewarding as possible for all of our sponsors and supporters and plan to build an itinery around answering your burning NOLA questions!
We look forward to reading/hearing your responses – please feel free to use the comments section below, or get in touch with us via our contact page, Twitter or Facebook.
Second line music is traditionally associated with funerals in New Orleans, but is now synonymous with almost any kind of New Orleans party/procession. Conventionally in New Orleans a funeral procession will take place between a church and a graveyard. After the family of the deceased exit the church with the coffin they lead a procession towards the graveyard, behind which, and as the ‘second line’, a brass band will follow playing solemn-dirge music (Just a Closer Walk with Thee is a common tune of choice). Once the graveyard is reached and the body is buried, the procession continues throughout the city with either an up-beat rearrangement of the dirge tune(s) played on the way to the graveyard, or a completely different up-beat/faster tune (When The Saints Go Marching In, Didn’t He Ramble, ‘Lil Liza Jane…).
Distilled to its essence, the groove itself is created by two percussionists. One with a bass drum strapped to his/her chest with a single upturned cymbal on top, and another with a snare drum. The bass drum player plays the bass drum with his/her right hand holding a big beater, and his/her left hand holding a metallic stick to strike the cymbal. Crucially the bass drum player provides the foundation of the groove with a pattern between his/her two hands that leads towards ‘the big four’ – an accent of both hands on beat four at the end of their phrase. The snare drum player plays a clavé rhythm between the hands, by use of accents, that similarly has a particular accent on the beat four at the end of their phrase. Both instruments enjoy some degree of improvisation, but are always aware of how they interlock, compliment the song, and lead towards the ‘big four’.
Below I demonstrate how the second line groove can be adapted for a drum set (link 1), as well provide a link to the rhythm section of the Rebirth Brass Band demonstrating what I have discussed (they present the tradition as well as modern interpretations).
Each horse represented a different county, and were in competition to see which comedy pair could raise the most money – congratulations to team Neddy Kelly (representing Australia), who won by raising a whopping £590!
We paraded the horses down King William Walk to the Pre-Race Ceremony at Davenport House Hotel to the traditional New Orleans funeral march,” Just A Closer Walk With Thee”, breaking into swinging song and dance on their arrival.
We just couldn’t keep a straight face with all of those floppy horse heads bobbing about…
Check out this little snippet of the Pre-Race Ceremony!