By McCray Sutherlin
Things have changed for the Rebirth Brass Band.
The New Orleans-based funk and jazz collective has played together in four different decades, but a Grammy win in 2012 has brought Rebirth new life.
Before they play Chelsea’s on Thursday, Sept. 19, co-founder and drummer Keith Frazier sat down with DIG for a quick chat on the band’s past, present, and future.
DIG: How did you all come together?
Keith Frazier: My brother Phillip Frazier was captain of the marching band. One of the parents put a group of guys together in 1983 to come to the Sheraton to play an event. They wouldn’t let us play because they were serving alcohol and we were underage. So we decided to head down to Bourbon Street and play for tips. We put a box down and we only knew a few songs at the time. We played them over and over again and thought, ‘This is pretty good idea,’ and thirty years later here we are.
DIG: Incredible. How does it feel to have won a Grammy?
KF: It feels great. We weren’t really expecting to win a Grammy or anything that year. It’s been really helpful in terms of getting more people coming out to shows and listening to our music.
DIG: I saw that Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers showed you all some love on Twitter. Have you guys gotten a chance to meet?
KF: Yeah, we met him. He was down in New Orleans having dinner with some people we knew. We were playing that night and he stopped in to see our show. After that we ended up doing 10 dates on a Canadian run of theirs back in November 2012.
DIG: What’s your most memorable story from being on the road?
KF: One thing I recall is the first time we went to Amsterdam to play a couple gigs back in ’87. We were walking down the street and some guy says, ‘Hey man, you know marijuana is legal here?’ We didn’t believe him so he brought us down to the Red Light District, and it was just so much different. Definitely a good time.
DIG: Is it one of you in particular that composes the music or is it a collective effort?
KF: It’s pretty much a collective effort. We all put everything together. Sometimes guys come up with entire songs but usually everyone in the band has some input on almost every song.
DIG: What have you all been up to recently?
KF: We just released a CD called Move Your Body in June. We’ve been promoting that and touring around the country. We’re in Austin, Texas tomorrow and headed back to New Orleans and then up to the Midwest.