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Music Brings a City Back: New Orleans and Treme

An Exclusive Interview by Jeff Kaliss

June 24, 2011

Big Sam Williams of the Rebirth Brass BandEven before the appearance of the hit HBO series Treme, named for a district in New Orleans, the great jazz tradition that was born there had received a boost. The Rebirth Brass Band, The Dirty Dozen, Big Sam and His Funky Nation, and a slew of hot bands had taken the classic style of Sidney Bechet, Louis Armstrong, Joe Oliver, and others and added to it, bringing in the funk and other musical ideas of the rock 'n roll era. Read a related SFCV article here.

Now, of course, the New Orleans sound is literally everywhere, thanks in no small part to HBO's ongoing series whose second season finale,”Do Watcha Wanna” (titled after a 1995 Rebirth album) airs on July 3.

In this SFCV-exclusive video, Kermit Ruffins (one of the original Rebirth members) and Big Sam Williams talk about the New Orleans musical scene, and its revival after Hurricane Katrina, and the classic tradition that is so clearly present when they put their horns to their lips. Hearing Ruffins swing a chorus of Sunny Side of the Street at the end of the video, is like opening a direct channel to Armstrong. …

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Treme Marches Off the TV and Into the Concert Hall

Music from the HBO series is hitting the road to showcase the vitality of New Orleans’ traditional jazz.

This project is supported in part by Gordon P. and Ann Getty, Robin and Kay Frost, and an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.National Endowment for the Arts

Vincent Tremblay is the founder and head of Skeletal Productions, a production company based in San Francisco that focuses on projects that reflect an experimental approach to the outdoors and the arts. As a filmmaker, his short films have play several in film festivals throughout the country and the Bay Area. Versed in all aspects of video and film production, he is at work on a documentary about dog carting that is slated for completion in early 2011.