By Jessi Smith
When Dianna Chenevert commissioned Mischa Philippoff to design a promotional poster for her then-fledgling New Orleans booking agency, Omni Attractions, in 1982, she certainly got the world’s attention. Featuring rare artist-submitted childhood photographs of living New Orleans music legends like Fats Domino, Earl King, Irma Thomas and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, the iconic Southern Stars poster put Omni Attractions on the map and became an invaluable photographic record of some of the greatest musicians to emerge from Louisiana.
Among those musicians were members of The Dirty Dozen Brass Band — who, at the time, were relative newcomers to musical fame. The music industry pricked its ears in 1981 when the Dirty Dozen Brass Band performed a private boat party hosted by The Rolling Stones, but it wasn’t until they were featured on the Southern Stars poster that the band began to receive national attention — and since then, they’ve seen a lot of it.
Celebrating their 35 anniversary this year, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band has grown into the shoes of the giants with whom they shared a space on the Southern Stars poster to become internationally known as one of the greatest influences on contemporary New Orleans brass bands.
“It ends up being like a pot of gumbo,” said The Dirty Dozen Brass Band founding member and trumpet player, Gregory Davis, when he described the band’s sound in their online bio.
“You drop in a little okra, drop in some shrimp, you drop in some crabs. Before you know it, you’ve mixed in all these ingredients and you’ve got a beautiful soup. That was our approach early on and it still is today.”
A hornucopia of brass instruments and drums make up the primary ingredients of the New Orleans music machine’s musical gumbo, which is infused with funk and seasoned with a dash of bebop. The result is an energetic and infectious sound that makes it impossible not to dance along.
The Dirty Dozen Brass Band’s eclectic style has earned the band a global audience, which ranges from jazz and blues traditionalists to jam band-loving festival attendees at Bonnaroo, where this video was filmed in 2002.
Over its 35 year history, the band has shared the studio with artists like Dizzy Gillespie, Elvis Costello and Norah Jones, and the stage with Widespread Panic and the Black Crowes. In the band’s first studio release in six years, Twenty Dozen, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band even released a funky brass cover of “Don’t Stop the Music ,“ a Top 40 hit by the popular contemporary artist, Rihanna.
On October 13, the world-renowned performers will bring their one-of-a-kind New Orleans brass sound to Sarasota. The Dirty Dozen Brass Band will perform in the Ringling Museum courtyard at the RIAF 2012 closing party, which aims to rival The Rolling Stones’ 1981 shindig in style and magnitude.
This year’s RIAF Closing Night Party is one you do not want to miss. Get your tickets here, or by calling (941) 360-7399 or (800) 660-4278 — and don’t forget to dust off your dancing shoes. You’re going to need them in October.