Guerrilla Fanfare Brass Band adds solid “second line” sound
By Peter Alexander March 7 at 8 p.m.
Conductor Vicki Burrichter and the Boulder Chorale want their audiences to have a good time.
Mardi Gras just being over, “a good time” suggests New Orleans’s raucous celebration of that festival. And so Boulder Chorale’s next concert this Saturday and Sunday (4 p.m. March 9 and 10 at First United Methodist Church in Boulder) is titled “A Very Boulder Mardi Gras.” With some of the music and the traditions of the famous New Orleans Mardi Gras as part of the performance, it will be, Burrichter says, “pretty fun and rowdy.”
“What I’m trying to do is get as close to an authentic New Orleans experience as we can.”
That means more than just having a few Dixieland tunes played during the concert, she says. “For me that’s not very authentic. There’s so much more to the music of New Orleans than Dixieland.”
To get closer to the real thing, she invited guests, including the Guerilla Fanfare Brass Band, to recreate the atmosphere of the New Orleans “second line” parades. There will be music by New Orleans musicians including Trombone Shorty and Dr. John. The concert program ends with the traditional Mardi Gras song “Iko, Iko,” followed by a second-line style parade out of the church to the music of the Rebirth Brass Band’s “Do Whatcha Wanna.”
If you are unfamiliar with the New Orleans second-line tradition, it can be described as the parade after the parade—the people who follow the official parade, dancing and singing and generally enjoying themselves. This has turned into a form of parade with a brass band leading and a crowd following—what has been described as “a jazz funeral without a body.”
Today second-line parades are a regular part of the New Orleans music scene.
Burrichter was inspired to bring second lining to Boulder when she experienced it first hand. A few years ago she was at a conference in New Orleans and had Sunday off. “I went and joined a second line,” she says. “Every Sunday there’s a band that will do that, and they take different routes through the various neighborhoods.
“You dance and you sing, and it was one of the most incredible artistic experiences I’ve ever had. It was very, very moving and fun, so I thought if I ever do a concert about New Orleans, I want to have a second line band there.“
The group she invited to fill that role, the Guerrilla Fanfare Brass Band, was founded in 2015 by tuba player Zach Brake and some friends from the University of Colorado. In 2018 they were named Colorado’s best brass band by Denver’s Westword magazine. Today the full group numbers 12 musicians, trumpets, trombones, saxophone and drums.
They play typical second-line tunes from the Rebirth Brass Band, a Grammy winning New Orleans band, as well as traditional jazz, pop covers, and their own original music. “Our big thing is we’re really energetic,” Brake says.
“If possible we try to get off the stage and walk around. The bigger the crowd is, the more we get into it.”
Performing in concert with the Chorale is different from their usual shows, Brake says, but that’s a good thing. “It’s pretty outside what we normally do,” he says. “This one has been pretty exciting to do.”
In addition to music from the New Orleans Mardi Gras celebration, there will be one composed piece for choir. The central piece on the program will be “A Little Jazz Mass” by former member of The King’s Singers Bob Chilcott, which Burrichter included to show the influence of New Orleans and jazz around the world
“It’s just a stunning piece,” she says. “The chorus loves it. I think the audience will love it, too.”
Other pieces on the listed program include “Ring Shout/Piece of Mind” from Wynton Marsalis’s Congo Square, arranged by Adam Waite and featuring vocalist Craig Robertson; “I Feel Like Funkin’ It Up” from the Rebirth Brass Band; Dr. John’s “Goin’ Back to New Orleans”; “Basin Street Blues”; and Trombone Shorty’s “Hurricane Season,” as a tribute to New Orleans’s suffering and recovery from hurricane Katrina.
Other guest artists will include a jazz trio for Chilcott’s “Little Jazz Mass”: Neil Dreger, bass; Kyle Liss, piano; and Ari Rubinstein, percussion.
Burrichter stresses that the program is full of fun music for everyone. In fact, outside of the 12-minute “Little Jazz Mass,” there is not any traditional concert music where the choir stands still and sings. “This is a family concert,” she says. “Bring the kids and everybody can dance.
“This is not going to be an uptight concert.”
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“A Very Boulder Mardi Gras”
Boulder Concert Chorale, Vicki Burrichter, director
With Guerilla Fanfare Brass Band
4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, March 9 and 10
First United Methodist Church. Boulder