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15 Quintessential New Orleans Brass Acts

Trumpets, trombones, saxophones and sousaphones have been sustaining the soul of the city for generations – and you can see the best brass bands, new or old, any night of the week! Follow your soul, and #FollowYourNOLA to see any of these amazing acts in the place they call home.

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1. Rebirth Brass Band

theeerin / Via Flickr: theeerin

WHAT THEY'RE KNOWN FOR: Being the very first ones to add a little funk to traditional brass arrangements.

These Grammy-winning ambassadors of brass were formed in 1983 by local legends the Frazier brothers and trumpeter Kermit Ruffins, alongside members of their high school marching band in the Treme at the time.

WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM: Every Tuesday night at the Maple Leaf Bar in the Carollton neighborhood Uptown

2. Stooges Brass Band

Rick Diamond / Getty Images

WHAT THEY'RE KNOWN FOR: Being the filthiest brass band on the block, funk-wise, that is!

They're the most vibrant, hip-hop inspired, and full of energy, taking the casual and ever-surprising feel of the New Orleans streets to festivals worldwide.

WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM: Upcoming - the closing ceremonies of the New Orleans Z-Day Festival. Regularly - d.b.a., Blue Nile.

3. Preservation Hall Jazz Band

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WHAT THEY'RE KNOWN FOR: Carrying the banner for the New Orleans dixieland jazz style worldwide.

Their allure, musical arrangements, and local home are 50-years strong as its founders intentionally kept its musical stylings intact while the rest of the community began to go avant garde. The company now regularly tours, in addition to its New Orleans residency, and has recently collaborated with contemporary artists including Andrew Bird and My Morning Jacket to benefit their own history and education programs.

WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM: Nightly, in some iteration, at Preservation Hall in the heart of the French Quarter

4. Soul Rebels Brass Band

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WHAT THEY'RE KNOWN FOR: Bringing the brass flavor to POP!

These guys take the best of the pop and soul songs you know and work them into inspired versions that sit flawlessly alongside funky NOLA classics. You'll find yourself singing along to songs you love, and some you don't even know by the end of their sets.

WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM: Thursdays at Le Bon Temps Roule Uptown

5. Dirty Dozen Brass Band

dirtydozenbrass.com

WHAT THEY'RE KNOWN FOR: Infusing brass with bebop and R&B.

They formed in 1977 from a church marching band and went secular with their selections, transitioning from standards to smooth soul by adding in guitars and bass beyond brass. Their most recent record is a song-for-song reinterpretation of Marvin Gaye's What's Going On.

WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM: The city's major festivals (like JazzFest and French Quarter Fest) when they're not on tour

6. Treme Brass Band

WHAT THEY'RE KNOWN FOR: Being the ambassadors of the Treme neighborhood.

The band's lineup is an ever-rotating cast of talent from the area that generates "a feeling" that inspires its music - the strong sense of identity and joy within the special neighborhood, as well as the magical products of its spontaneous jam sessions.

WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM: Tuesdays at d.b.a., Wednesdays at Candlelight Lounge

7. Hot 8 Brass Band

Shawn Colin / Via hot8brassband.com

WHAT THEY'RE KNOWN FOR: Keeping the world abreast of life in New Orleans.

These talented natives use their music and flexible roster as a vehicle to continually replenish the roots of the city. They brought music to shelters after Hurricane Katrina, and started their own anti-violence campaign while weaving the messages into their music and touring festivals worldwide.

WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM: Sundays at Howlin' Wolf

8. Bonerama

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WHAT THEY'RE KNOWN FOR: Being the "anything goes" answer to traditional brass, and their insane classic rock covers.

Stemming from trombone "super sessions" in French Quarter clubs where all the players of the instrument would swarm to jam together, this brass is 100% rooted in rock & roll with flairs of funk, jazz, and reggae. Oh, and lots of trombone.

WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM: A few times a month at Rock 'n' Bowl Mid-City Lanes

9. Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue

WHAT THEY'RE KNOWN FOR: Turning tradition into total rock star-dom.

It takes a young one to transform tradition! Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews got his nickname at age four while playing on the Treme streets. Now 27, Shorty is king of the scene, even at his still-young age. He and his band are New Orleans' latest major breakout, not just playing but headlining major festivals worldwide, and giving back to the community with his own music education foundation.

WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM: Headlining JazzFest, plus many of its annual aftershows and benefit shows

10. Big Sam's Funky Nation

Skip Bolen / Getty

WHAT THEY'RE KNOWN FOR: Being the tightest band on the block.

This is not your classic brass band, in the best way possible. No one can touch the tempo, power, and dance moves of Big Sam. His personality was just too big to keep him in his former projects (which included Dirty Dozen and founding membership of Stooges). The band truly came to be after Sam stepped out as a solo artist to collaborate with legends like Allen Toussaint, Elvis Costello, and Karl Denson.

WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM: d.b.a. or Tipitina's when not touring

11. Brass-A-Holics

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WHAT THEY'RE KNOWN FOR: Creating their own corner by combining two musical forces.

New to the scene, but quickly climbing the ranks, the group thrives on putting heavy Washington, DC-native go-go beats behind New Orleans brass.

WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM: Thursdays at Freret Street Publiq House

12. To Be Continued (TBC) Brass Band

derek_b / Via Flickr: derek_b

WHAT THEY'RE KNOWN FOR: Being half of a brass brotherhood.

TBC was founded in 2002, but discovered by The Roots in 2005, who shared a musical kinship over their place in each of their cities, and of course, the sousaphone. The bands have collaborated together on stage, and on screen, as TBC was featured in From The Mouthpiece On Back, a documentary about rebuilding the band after its teenage members were displaced and separated for a matter of months after Hurricane Katrina.

WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM: Wednesdays at Celebration Hall

13. Khris Royal & Dark Matter

Rick Diamond / Getty Images

WHAT THEY'RE KNOWN FOR: Bringing art to brass.

Khris Royal is the king of New Orleans "alternative funk" movement, after a prodigal start composing music by age 14. His classical training at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts and Berklee College of Music brought a newly-inspired and artful bend to his existing skills as an orchestrator and arranger.

WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM: Spontaneous gigs outside of festival season, but regularly sitting in solo with tons of other local musicians at Gasa Gasa or Blue Nile

14. Algiers Brass Band

Mark Gstohl / Via Flickr: 48352971@N00

WHAT THEY'RE KNOWN FOR: Leading second lines.

Algiers Brass Band is rarely found on a stage – they're known for leading the informal music of the streets for special occasions. They stay close to the classic jazz style, and not just musically! Their traditional uniforms harkening back to the military roots of brass bands are never easily missed.

WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM: Parading in the streets at almost any time!

15. Lagniappe Brass Band

derek_b / Via Flickr: 84949728@N00

WHAT THEY'RE KNOWN FOR: Afro-Cuban flavored brass.

They use traditional brass instruments to fuse together multiple musical cultures, using sousaphone and trombone to churn out Latin rhythms with melodies rooted in funk. The group also features trumpeter Mario Abney, a talented transplant from Chicago, whose more straightforward jazz quintet performs around town regularly, too.

WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM: Wednesdays at Mojito's

Throw your very own second line with these brass classics all in one place!

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