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This year's Heritage celebration embodied New Orleans' culture

Written by  Nick Garrison
(Photo's by Chelsea Layne) (Photo's by Chelsea Layne)
Party lights flashed, speakers thumped, 30-foot tall trumpeter sculptures accented the stage, and as the sun started to set, the brass bands showed up. The true heritage of New Orleans was captured Saturday night at Studio 3 during IntheNOLA's largest annual event, Heritage: A Brass Band Celebration benefiting Son of a Saint Foundation.
 
But before going any further, what is heritage? Merriam-Webster says: “something possessed as a result of one's natural situation or birth : birthright.” Heritage can exist anywhere, but in New Orleans, it kind of goes hand in hand with the tradition and culture of the city and it's people.
Recap | Heritage: A Brass Band Celebration | IntheNOLA.com
As part of IntheNOLA's mission of supporting New Orleans by promoting positivity, showcasing local New Orleanians, and giving back to the community, this night gave back to musicians, acrobats, and local eateries. It promoted local art and party life while still supporting a good cause, Son of a Saint Foundation. Hosted by artist Varion Laurent, the package was complete at a one of a kind venue. Set at the incredible Studio 3, the hall was fit for a Mardi Gras King featuring parade floats, movie sets, 3D billboards, and larger than life sculptures. Every aspect of this Heritage celebration embodied New Orleans and IntheNOLA.
 
Gracing the Patron Party, Mario Abney and Donald Surtain pulled something out of the hat that was completely new, literally improvised and unplanned, and relatable to today's young audiences. The trumpet and electric violin duo used hip-hop backbeat tracks to highlight their live jazz music. Amy Tracy of Gravity Defying Fitness elegantly awed audiences by making the intricate flips on aerial ribbons look effortless.
Recap | Heritage: A Brass Band Celebration | IntheNOLA.com
And of course we feasted! The shrimp creole from Chef John Besh’s Borgne Restaurant was an instant hit. Served by the sweet and smiling Lady herself, Gabrielle Smith, Lady Marmalade Catering and Cuisine brought the savory heat with curry chicken pasta. Shrimp and grits from The Munch Factory was smooth as butter, topped by the perfect remoulade to make it go down even easier. And the pecan pie bites from Dee’s Delectable Delights might have gained some new addicts! Gooey and full of pecans, each piece had a perfect flake to the crust and just enough sweetness to balance an amazing meal.
 
After the Patron Party, it was time to get down to the real business of the night, the brass bands! The New Orleans style of brass band music dates back to the nineteenth century, drawing from European military marching bands as well as African traditions of song and dance most prevalent during the Sunday communion of slaves in Congo Square. The first black brass bands began performing for funeral marches and second lines, trying to move the people into a positive mood. By the twentieth century, they were influencing Jazz and Dixieland musicians.
Recap | Heritage: A Brass Band Celebration | IntheNOLA.com
Today, bands like the Original Pinettes are changing things up while keeping the heritage alive. The first and only all-women brass band filled the hall with their sassy sound. These ladies make you a part of their show by talking to the audience, keeping the continuous groove, and playing recognizable melodies even if you're not up on your brass band history. Free Agents Brass Band brought the beat back to the everyman. Since most members have other day jobs, you can be hear the grind of the workday in their swag, personalities, and the way they play. TBC ripped it high and tight with on point vocals, stacked horns, and a funky cowbell. The band lit up with energy and proved their namesake by leaving the audience wanting more. Hot 8 closed the night out in a traditional style with help from a couple other brass players earlier in the night. All acts considered, it turned out to be a beautiful collaboration of art and music. And with DJ Raj Smoove playing the role of the house band, stepping up between each of the brass bands and fueling the dancers at the end of the night, you can be assured everyone was moving in Studio 3!
 
Everyone walked away with a full stomach of complimentary food, lifted spirits from a little liquid courage, and a badass brass band bandana from Purple Monkey.
 
Watch out for next year cause Heritage is blasting off. It is food, it is entertainment, it is supporting the local cause, it is to be continued, and it is New Orleans. 
Last modified on Monday, 15 April 2013

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