Hot 8 Brass Band Brings the New Orleans Second Line to the Crossfade Music Series

There have been good times, plenty of booze, and a few flashes of craziness.

Back in June, we kicked off Crossfade Presents The Local at The Stage with a wild punk rager soundtracked by Furious Dudes, Bulletproof Tiger, and Secret Arms. Next, we took a midsummer trip to the country, sipped a little moonshine, and got hick with Everymen, The Wholetones, Brain Chips, and Uncle Scotchy. Then last month, our plans for a swag bash with Metro Zu, O'Grime, and Chalk devolved -- unfortunately -- into a party in a public parking lot.

Now, though, the Crossfade music series is getting set for a late-September second line parade with New Orleans hip-hop, jazz, and funk crew Hot 8 Brass Band.

Each and every current member of the Hot 8 -- founder and tuba player Big Bennie Pete; trumpet men Terell "Burger" Batiste, Raymond "Dr. Rackle" Williams, and Big Al Huntley; trombonists Edward "Juicy" Jackson and Gregory Veals; sax man John Prince Gilbert; drummers Harry "Swamp Thang" Cook and Lil Sammy Cyrus -- was born and raised in the Big Easy.

And while it's been a blessing coming from the city where jazz was born, the Hot 8, originally founded in 1995, has also been hit hard by the natural disasters and street crime that have long plagued its hometown.

Like all residents of the Crescent City, the Hot 8's members faced the onslaught of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 -- not to mention the failure of the federal, state, and municipal governments to adequately assist the storm's victims.

"It was mind boggling," Big Bennie Pete recalled during a panel discussion, Rebuilding New Orleans, in 2007. "We were in a 10-foot black hole. We didn't know which way to go. We just was like, 'What are we gonna do? What are we gonna do?'"

Meanwhile, over the course of the band's 16-year history, three Hot 8 members have died in the streets. "Before Katrina, just living and coming up in New Orleans was a whole different story for us," Pete explained. "We're musicians, but we still have to go home at night in our neighborhoods and deal with real New Orleans and what that brings."

In 1996, trumpet player Jacob Johnson was murdered in his home. On August 4, 2004, drummer Joseph "Shotgun Joe" Williams, unarmed and alone, was killed by New Orleans police during a traffic stop. And then two years later, drummer Dinerral Shavers was shot in the head on December 28, 2006, by a teen gunman who'd been feuding with his stepson.

But all along, the Hot 8 have kept the faith. And like Big Bennie has said: "Going back to our music really helped us get through it."

Hot 8 Brass Band as part of Crossfade Presents The Local at The Stage. Thursday, September 29. The Stage, 170 NE 38th St., Miami. Call 305-576-9577 or visit thestagemiami.com.

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