This article was originally written by Dionne Charlet for WHERE Y’AT
When New Orleans Brass Band meets Washington D.C. Go-Go in the City That Care Forgot, there’s no place like The 12 Bar on a Wednesday night! Music Writer Dionne Charlet caught up with the members of the Brass-A-Holics, and the entire band took time out of their busy schedules to grant Where Y’at Magazine this interview.
Where y’at: When Trombonist Winston “Trombone” Turner created the brass-a- Holics, how did each of you personally come to join?
Tannon “FisH” Williams (trumpt and vocals): “I was the first person that Winston spoke with about forming the band and actually came up with the name Brass-A-Holics after numerous discussions with Winston. We have been friends since high school and were members of the Soul Rebels Brass Band together for about 14 years. During those years we developed a dynamic one-two punch of musical entertainment that makes us a natural fit to explore a new territory together.”
Robin “Thick” clabby (saxophone): In the early stages the band was looking for a permanent third horn. When I joined in, the chemistry was so good between us I couldn’t help but to become a Brass-A-Holic. When something feels this good from the get-go, you gotta jump on it. Keiko “double K” Komaki (keyboard): I joined Brass-A- Holics in Dec. 2010. I had the opportunity to play with Winston at another gig, and he asked me to play with his band the ‘Brass-A-Holics’ at that time. I thought that I might be able to do that and create something new with Winston and his band.
Jason “slick” slack (brass horn): Winston called me and said, ‘I need you to play the tuba for this new band that I want to start,’ and I said, ‘I’m in. Dwayne Muhammad (percussion): I was asked to sit in one night because they were looking for a percussionist. I was called to join a few days later. Matt Clark (electric guitar): After the Brass- A-Holics formed, drummers Rickey Caesar and Gene Harding (who also works with us sometimes) reminded Winston about my extensive experience playing electric guitar with brass bands and spoke of what I could bring to the table. The Brass-A-Holics, however, are not a traditional brass band, but we all understand the roots of the culture and collectively are bringing the brass sound to a modern and progressive platform. ricky caesar (drums): Winston and I go way back to Jr. High School. I was asked to do a gig with the Brass-A-Holics and it turned into a permanent spot in the band.
Claude Flot (band Manager): I’ve known Winston for years. He actually taught me how to play Trombone at St. Aug. Over the years I have developed a strong business and marketing background. One day in Oct. 2010 I received a phone call from Winston and he said “Flot, I need you.” He didn’t know exactly what he wanted to do but he did know he wanted to start a band with a Go-Go feel. I met him that night on the corner of St. Charles & Girod. We talked outside for about an hour and we never looked back.
WyaT: Winston, what were you looking for when you sought out members for the brass-a-Holics?
Turner: In creating the band I was first and foremost looking for good people. When I say “good people” I mean people that are good at heart before music. Individuals placing God first, family, and individuals that have demonstrated exceptional inter/intrapersonal skills. Secondly, members possessing a particular set of musical skills or the humbleness of wanting to grow in areas deficient.
WyaT: Winston Turner coined the term “go-go brass Funk” to describe a musical genre that is 100-proof brass-a-Holics.Would you like to describe the feel of the music to our readers?
clabby: I think the key to the sound is energy. We play hard out of the gate and then just keep taking it higher. We all love what we’re doing and we’ll often play two or three hours straight without a break. Sonically, it’s fat, funky and fun. This is definitely not music for sitting down. We want everybody who comes out to get involved in creating a great night. Komaki: This is the music for dancing!!! I hope the audience can dance all night long with this band. The sound of Brass Band music in New Orleans is powerful and exciting. We added a full drum set, guitar, and keyboard to the New Orleans brass band sound, and have created a new genre of music; ‘Go- Go Brass Funk’!! caesar: It’s New Orleans funk with a twist of D.C. Go-Go, Second Line, Brass, R& B, hip hop Music…you name it, it’s in there!
WyaT: I can see where the merger of traditional new orleans brass band with a Washington d.c. go-go groove can be addictive.Was the sound already formed before the band was staffed, or did the sound evolve with the addition of particular instruments/ members?
Turner: I have never really heard the sound of our music the way we are putting it together. We love the harmony and full sound of three horns leading the band. Also, we like the energy that a tuba brings rather than a bass guitar. With the punch and energy of a tuba paired with the drive of a lead guitar, the keyboard keeps the foundation and color of the sound. The music is melodic and full before adding our go-go funk flavor. clark: Winston had a particular vision for sure before the band was staffed, but I believe that each member brings a certain flavor that undeniably alters the feel and overall approach to the sound. That’s what makes it more than just New Orleans Brass meets D.C. Go-Go, that’s makes it the Brass-A-Holics.
Flot: I would have to say that this “addictive” sound evolved into Winston’s vision. From our initial meeting I’ve seen this come to life before my eyes. However, it is a team effort. Each member of the Brass-A-Holics brings something to the stage. Without everyone’s input this band wouldn’t be as dangerous and intoxicating as it is.
WyaT: Would you say that the instruments themselves have a voice in the band?
Williams: Every instrument definitely has its own voice in which conclusively joins all together to create what we like to call Brassahol. All together, we collectively vibe off of each other’s ideas to form our overall sound. slack: There are so many things you can do with a brass instrument that you cannot do with an electric. When you play a brass instrument, the horn comes to life.
Muhammad: Yes, each instrument has a voice of its own. The percussion brings the African element from Congo Square /New Orleans, which is the birthplace of Jazz. That African influence is in the D.C. sound as well.
WyaT: What does it take to become a true brass-a-Holic? Turner: A true Brass-a-Holic must have a weekly dose of live music to help them function and get through the week.
Flot: “Come out to a show and see what all the hype is about. We allow our fans to get on stage with us to take the pledge – ‘My name is ______, and I am a Brass-A-Holic’.”
WyaT: Which venue or venues do ya’ll most enjoy performing, and why?
Komaki: The 12 Bar; we have been playing at least for three months every Wednesday at The 12 Bar. I was happy to hear when somebody told me “Wednesday is the day to go see the Brass-A-Holics at The 12 Bar.
WyaT: The city of new orleans is already falling in love with Brass-A-Holics. What does the city mean to you?
Clark: This city means everything to me. I moved here in 2007 with a lifelong love for the culture and I was welcomed with open arms. I came here with nothing and was given every opportunity to exhibit my talents and now I just want to add my sound to the brilliant gumbo that is New Orleans music.
Caesar: This city means a lot to me because it is where I was born and it is the roots of my musical background. If it wasn’t for New Orleans, I wouldn’t have this music in me. This musical gumbo influences me and there is nowhere like it in the world. I couldn’t have been asked to be born in a better place!!
WyaT: Your fans have deemed themselves the b.a.H. nation. How can new potential fans gain access to your music?
Clabby: Come see us! The live show is really the thing. The band’s evolving so fast that we haven’t really had time to stop and document our progress yet, but I’m excited to do the first album. It’s gonna be a pretty unique piece of work. The best way to keep tabs on us right now is probably through www.Brass- A-Holics.com, Facebook, or Twitter…