By Leslie D. Rose
June 27 was no average Friday evening for Baton Rouge live music fans. Seeing as The Michael Foster Project (MFP) presented a show that included two other brass bands and Golden Sioux Mardi Gras Indians for an event aptly titled “Kick Some Brass.”
But Brass Kickin’ quickly became very much the understatement as the night began with newcomers The Wayward Boyz Brass Band marching into the venue through the crowd playing Louisiana favorites. Comprised of former members of the Southern University Human Jukebox, the newly formed band closed their introduction set with Frankie Beverly and Maze’s “We are One.” From that very moment, the energized crowd seemed prepared for whatever the rest of the night would hold. Only they appeared to have no idea how much more exciting things would get.
Hosted by Teiko Foxx of Q106.5, the show’s intensity built with the dance floor totally covered within the first two songs from visiting band The Bayou City Brass Band (formerly The Texas Brass Band) from Houston. The 10-piece collective provided an expertly crafted, well-rehearsed set that began with a jazz number then immediately jumped into some funkier tunes complete with choreography of both bodies and instrumentation.
As they played in syncopation, and sang in near-perfect harmonies, the Houston phenoms told the audience that “Kick Some Brass” was their first show outside of Texas. In true southern hospitality, Baton Rouge fans welcomed them with open arms, even running to the merchandise table in droves to purchase their new favorite band’s CD.
And while it might seem a scary move to have such a talented band open up for Baton Rouge’s homegrown favorites, MFP band leader Michael Foster said his only objective was to ensure the audience a great show.
“We are trying to do something different for Baton Rouge,” Foster said. “[The Bayou City Brass Band] had never been outside of Texas, and for years us and those guys, who mostly all went to [Texas Southern] – a school that always plays against our school [Southern University] – have been wanting to get this thing started where we do home and away shows, so the next time you see us play together, it’ll be in Houston.”
Dressed in a jersey-style uniform baring their name, The Bayou City Brass Band enchanted MFPS’s faithful party-going fans for several very sing-a-longish tunes that included Cameo’s “Candy” which started a huge floor-crowding line dance and somewhere mid-song became Tupac’s “All About U.” Also included in their set was a faster moving version of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” and then came a melodic Bob Marley’s “No Woman No Cry” that further showcased the band’s singing ability. Before performing some original numbers, they showed their dancing chops again with some 80’s moves leading into “Funkadelic” and slowing down with Guy’s “Piece of my Love,” and entering back into the 80’s with EU’s “Da Butt” and Slick Rick’s “La di da di.” The set ended with a percussion spotlight slipping into some New Orleans brass classics most known through Rebirth Brass Band.
Golden Sioux Mardi Gras Indians provided a part of the transition between The Bayou City Brass Band and MFP. Playing traditional New Orleans music complete in authentic costuming, the tribe danced and sang for a few songs before DJ Marquis, who is a former Human Jukebox member and a staple to MFP’s large showings such as Funkin’ with Friends, took over spinning dance songs to keep the energy high.
Foxx returned to the stage to pump the crowd up for their headliners by starting a slow then fast chanting of “MFP” as the men entered the stage.
And while Foxx struggled to hold the crowd’s attention as an ill-fit host for such a high energy event, the crowd never seemed to lose its steam as they welcomed up the MFP.
Opening their set with Luther Vandross’s “Never Too Much,” the MFP continued throughout the evening with fan favorites such as The Gap Band’s “Outstanding,” Mary J. Blige’s “real Love,” Montell Jordan’s “This is How We Do It” and Anita Baker’s “Sweet Love.” Moving on from those songs, the brass musicians played New Orleans Bounce classics that kept everyone dancing, some even drenched in sweat from moving about.
As the MFP transitioned into Frankie Beverly and Maze’s “We Are One,” the unexpected happened – somehow every musician who had played for the evening squeezed themselves onto the stage and began an exquisitely grand finale with Rebirth Brass Band’s version of Levert’s “Cassanova.” Fans were encouraged by MFP trumpeter John Gray to rush the stage, pull their cell phones out and take selfies with the band.
“What you see here tonight, you’ll never see again,” Gray said.
To pay homage to their alma mater, Southern University and its late band director “Doc” Greggs, the MFP closes every show with the Southern University fight song – this evening was no different, except that several Texas Southern students were included in the tribute.
Arguably one of the best live music experiences in the Capital City, if someone ever tells you that this show will be recreated – get your tickets.