Treme Brass Band - "Gimme My Money Back" - Arholie Records - 1995
When you see the Treme Brass Band, you always remember it. Band members dressed in white shirts, signature caps, black tie and black pants with the great Uncle Lionel Batiste, dressed to the nines, leading the way.
Treme Brass Bands straddles that line between the traditional brass sound and the newer, grittier sound that has become the rage. Not just another boisterous brass band record playing to the tourist crowd filled with nonsense about New Orleans’ joie de vivre, the album is something more, something deeper. Amid the blazing horns and funky backbeat is a painfully honest social commentary that only a band that knows the streets of New Orleans, where the realities of crime, drugs and violence and death play out everyday, could execute.
“Playing games, running around, but you ain’t going nowhere / But you rob or steal, get yourself killed for a $50 bill / I want my money worth.” This from a band that buries so many of its own, understands firsthand the hardscrabble realities of living here and knows how many, sadly, meet their end in the New Orleans, and often they are on hand to play that last song before the spirit moves on.
The lineup for the record is a who’s-who of New Orleans brass band music, with appearances by Kirk Joseph, James Andrews, Kermit Ruffins, and Corey Henry, as just some of the great musicians on the album.
One of the great strengths of the album is that it was recorded live at the New Orleans Music Factory in 1995. Rather than try to recreate the spontaneity that makes brass bands great on the streets of New Orleans, the producers embraced the live spirit of the band, that spirit of the street.