By David McIntyre, Lyons Blueologist
The Soul Rebels brass band formed when Lumar LeBlanc and Derrick Moss, originally members of New Orleans’ iconic Dejean’s Young Olympia brass band, decided they wanted to play the new exciting music they were hearing on the radio while respecting the tradition they loved. Both New Orleans natives, the pair was steeped in the fundamentals of New Orleans jazz, but inevitably
contemporary styles of music began to seep into their psyches.
While still in high school and in the marching band, new sounds were all around, and LeBlanc and Moss found them as exciting as the horn combo style featured in jazz funerals since the turn of the twentieth century. “We wanted to make our own sound without disrespecting the brass tradition,” Le Blanc recalls, “so we knew we had to break away.” They found a stylistic middle ground as they spun off and formed a band of like-minded local players from all over New Orleans. The band took the marching band format they had learned in school and incorporated influences from outside the city as well as late-breaking local styles ( R&B, funk and hip-hop) especially through half-sung, half-rapped lyrics. “Most of our originals have vocals,” says Le Blanc, “ you wouldn’t have done that in a traditional brass band.”
Soon, The Soul Rebels’ contagious originals and updated takes on standards won them a loyal local audience. They began rocking some of New Orleans most beloved live music venues. A chance gig opening for The Neville Brothers got them a real start, and an official name. It was the youngest Neville, Cyril, who first called them “Soul Rebels,” a good name for a band that strived to incite positive change in its treasured musical heritage.
Since those days, the band has settled on an eight-piece lineup, building a career around an eclectic live show that harnesses the power of horns and drums in the party-like atmosphere of a dance club. Their weekly show at the uptown New Orleans spot Le Bon Temps Roule’ has been known to descend into a sweaty shout-along as the band mixes up songs from it’s five studio albums with hits from Jay-Z and Outcast.
While touring the U.S. the Soul Rebels have shared the stage with many notable artists, averaging around two hundred fifty shows per year, The Soul Rebels have brought the party to stages as far away as South Africa and Europe, playing some of the world’s best-known musical events. The Soul Rebels were described by Village Voice as “the link between Public Enemy and Louis Armstrong.” The Soul Rebels won New Orleans’ Big Easy award in 2010, 2008, and 1999 as well as nominations in 2012, 2011, and in 2009. They have been nominated for Best of the Beat: Offbeat Beat awards in 2011, 2010, 2009 and 2008. In 2012, The Soul Rebels were nominated for four Best of the Beat Awards: Best Artist of the Year, Best Album of the Year, Best Band of the Year, Best Brass Band Album of the Year.
Consequently when I was asked by our staff and the folks from Marquee magazine to find a band that would bring the party, get people moving, and dancing, having a real good time, and being as it was going to be at a place (Oskar Blues, Lyons) that specializes in New Orleans music and food, I quickly called to see if this hot New Orleans party band was available. And low and behold I was able to get my first choice to come party with us.
This is going to be a very fun night with local band, The Strange Americans opening up for The Soul Rebels starting at 8 p.m. on Friday April 19. If you like to party, you better be there.