The Hot 8 Brass Band Prove Can’t Nobody Get Down Like New Orleans (Video)
New Orleans’ expansive musical history is perhaps no better recognized than by the ubiquitous brass band. For generations, musicians in the Big Easy have taken up brass horns (wooden instruments don’t do so well in the humidity) on street corners, in second-line parades, and in performance venues as instruments for both celebratory and somber occasions. In recent years, brass bands like the Soul Rebels have become crossover sensations, thanks to working with Hip-Hop superstars like Rakim and Talib Kweli. But in the Crescent City, all brass bands are celebrated as both musical heroes and local dignitaries, including The Hot 8.
The Hot 8 Brass Band earned some major mainstream acclaim after being featured in Spike Lee’s award-winning Hurricane Katrina documentaries When The Levees Broke and The Creek Don’t Rise, as well as landing prominent features in the HBO series Treme. The Grammy-winning group released their fifth album, On The Spot, earlier this year, and with it they delivered an homage to New Orleans’ distinctive parade culture. The title refers to the glorious, rare moment in a parade when the band stops to take a break but keeps playing for the crowd, many times improvising an entirely new tune right there, on the spot.
That’s the spirit of the group’s recent single, “Can’t Nobody Get Down,” an undeniably infectious record showcasing the highest caliber of New Orleans Jazz. It’s a true testament to Hot 8’s longevity and stamina; this year, the crew will celebrate the 10th anniversary of their debut as a full-fledged recording artist, but it’s really been 2o since they began rocking stages as a unit. But it’s also a stirring acknowledgment of the trials the group has faced, from the devastating effects of Katrina to the separate deaths of five Hot 8 members over the course of several years. As described by a spokesperson for the group, “they honor their lost friends and work towards the future of their community by putting their energies into positive projects at home as well as touring as much as possible. They march together and they play their music, not merely as a livelihood, but because their lives depend on it.”
In the new video for “Can’t Nobody Get Down,” that resilience takes center stage and the song’s title is illuminated. Heads are treated to some of NOLA’s signature cultural touchstones: a vivacious street parade, audacious personal style, and of course, some of the livest music one could ever ask for.
To hear some of Hot 8’s innovative interpretation of Hip-Hop, Heads should check out their interpretations of Snoop Dogg’s “What’s My Name?”
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