It’s Never Too Late for the Hot 8 Brass Band

The storied New Orleans powerhouse will be at the New Parish.


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Photo courtesy Hot 8 Brass Band

Few bands better embody the dogged pluck and resilience of New Orleans culture than the Hot 8 Brass Band.

Battered and scattered by Hurricane Katrina and decimated by gun violence, the combo has persisted and ultimately thrived over the years with an infectiously kinetic sound. Inspired by its innovative antecedents, particularly the Dirty Dozen and Rebirth Brass Bands, Hot 8 has honed a potent repertoire of original tunes infused with the distinctive Crescent City hip-hop beat known as bounce. The group performs Saturday, Oct. 19, at The New Parish in Uptown.

Led by the nimble sousaphone master Bennie “Big Peter” Pete, Hot 8 first came together in 1996 when he engineered the merger of the High Steppers and the Looney Tunes Brass Bands, rival brass outfits from Fortier High School in Uptown New Orleans. Tragedy struck that same year when the band’s 17-year-old trumpeter Jacob Johnson was found at home shot execution-style. A controversial police shooting and a drive-by took two more members of the band, but Hot 8’s boundless energy and perseverance kept the band in the limelight, including a six-month tour opening for Lauryn Hill. Spike Lee featured Hot 8 in his New Orleans documentaries When the Levees Broke and If God Is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise. The group reached a whole new audience with Down in New Orleans, the 2008 collaboration with legendary gospel ensemble the Blind Boys of Alabama.

Their dramatic history became the subject of the band’s best-known album, 2012’s The Life and Times of the Hot 8 Brass Band, a saga that continued the following year with Tombstone, a project dedicated to former band members, living and departed. With a coveted Sunday night gig at The Howlin Wolf, Hot 8 continues to play an essential role in New Orleans’ nightlife.

Hot 8 Brass Band, Saturday, Oct. 19, 9 p.m., The New Parish, Oakland, $20-$25, 510-227-8177, TheNewParish.com.

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