Dirty Dozen Brass Band :: 02.13.10 :: The Mint :: Los Angeles, CA
New Orleans has a special vibe. The birthplace of jazz and countless culinary delights, there are few places on the planet where the energy of a city can be felt so clearly. After Hurricane Katrina that energy was noticeably different. A city full of smiles and parades was quickly transformed into a city of frowns and broken dreams. Over the last few years New Orleans has made a remarkable recovery, but the city needed one more big push to make their revival complete. On Super Bowl Sunday, the Saints gave their city the final push. That sense of joy and celebration was written all over the faces of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and their fans at The Mint in Los Angeles.
Early in the evening the Dirty Dozen's website stated that they were going to have problems getting out of New Orleans on time because of weather concerns. They pushed the start time back to 11 p.m. DJ Rome was the opening act and he started around 10. Tucked into a back corner of the restaurant, he eloquently mixed New Orleans funk with hip hop. The result made it hard for anyone to stand still.
The Mint is a really cool but very small room. The inside looks like a small jazz club with tables, chairs and very low ceilings. When show time approaches, the tables and chairs are moved to open up a decent sized dance floor in front of the stage. When 11 came and went, the 175-person crowd began to grow restless. However, drinks were flowing and DJ Rome kept the tunes spinning, so the mood of the crowd remained light. By the time midnight rolled around that lightheartedness seemed to dampen a bit. Some fans were overheard asking for refunds at the door and an announcement was made that the band had finally landed at LAX and were on their way.
The seven members of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band (their name was taken from The Dirty Dozen Social and Pleasure Club in New Orleans, where they were the house band back in the '70s) took the stage at 12:30 a.m. The second they did, the atmosphere instantly transformed and the party was ignited. One of the trumpet players wore a Saints jersey while two other band members sported Saints hats and t-shirts. The band led the crowd in chants of who dat!?" throughout the show which always elicited a wild response.
Not a single person in attendance slowed down for the entire 90 minute show. The band may have been late but they were making up for it with a set that included such New Orleans standards as Fire On the Bayou," When the Saints Go Marching In" and Goin' To New Orleans." The story of the night was the stellar guitar work of Jake Eckert, especially when he was playing opposite the sousaphone instead of bass.
Ultimately, the delayed start had no lasting effects on the crowd whatsoever. At one point there was actually a conga line weaving its way around the dance floor. The set closed with an explosive version of the title track from their groundbreaking 1984 album My Feet Can't Fail Me Now. If the mood and energy at The Mint is any indication, New Orleans is back and better than ever.