New Sound Brass | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN
The Key Studio Sessions: New Sound Brass
In more ways than one, Philly’s New Sound Brass is a band of leaders.
They lead by introducing regional audiences to the long-standing New Orleans tradition of the second line. They lead in that they’re adding their own spin second line, giving it a bit of bravado and emphasizing that it’s a celebration. They lead by showing Philly audiences that brass music doesn’t have to be limited to dudes in feathered attire and face paint, sauntering up Broad Street on New Year’s Day.
And in the biggest way, the folks of New Sound Brass are leaders in quite a literal sense — you might have seen them at the XPoNential Music Festival in 2014, marching the crowd from Wiggins Park to the BB&T Pavilion. They did the same thing this summer at Firefly, beginning at the campground and waking up the weary audience with a lively Pied Piper strut into the festival grounds.
Basically, when they start the party, it’s difficult not to follow. And as with like-minded acts across the country — Providence street band What Cheer? Brigade, as well as the famed Detroit Party Marching Band — these folks love to start the party.
New Sound Brass founded about two years ago — and yes, it does include a couple mummers. It also includes people who played music in their church community, or in the local hip-hop scene. The lineup of NSBwas a high-energy ten piece when they stepped into WXPN studios for a recent Key Session. No fewer than five of those players wielded trombones: Michael C. Strickland Jr., Perrie “Pops” Windless, Larissa Hall, Bruce Swinton Jr. and Dan Demmy (who also dished smooth guitar licks on “Jazz Box”). Also in the mix was Boomer on marching baritone, Pete Jones holding down the low end on sousaphone and the drum trio of Ringo (not the Beatle) on bass drum, Patrick Renzi on snare and Kenny Merritt on cymbals and hand percussion.
The band has become renowned for their cover versions of pop / rock favorites — Black Sabbath, Bon Jovi and more — as well as traditional numbers like “When the Saints Go Marching In.” For their Key Studio Session, they do a sick take on Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” but they also focus on their own rousing originals. Below, you can watch a video of the get-up-and-go opener “NSB Anthem” via VuHaus, and in the set you can hear the swaggering “Rock Heavy” as well as the aforementioned smoothness of “Jazz Box.”
Give a listen to their Key Studio Session below, or grab a free download via Soundcloud. And catch New Sound Brass in person tomorrow night, when they bring the party to the Trocadero stage opening for Low Cut Connie. Tickets are still available for the show, more information can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar.
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