•The Daniel Island Stage
“From the band’s inception, we were part of the hip-hop generation,” says snare drummer and vocalist Lumar Leblanc of funky brass band The Soul Rebels. “When hip-hop started to trickle into the mainstream, that’s what we were listening to on the radio and looking at on TV. So, naturally, we wanted to mix that into the New Orleans jazz.”
Following the success of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and other New Orleans acts steeped in brass band tradition, a new hybrid of highly rhythmic funk music has evolved out of the scene – old-school rap and hip-hop, plus a century of New Orleans jazz tradition.
The Rebels draw from their hometown musical heritage and deliver a mix of traditional funk, edgy reggae, jazz, and hip-hop styles. The band regularly refers to their sound as a “soul sonic stew” and a “wicked gumbo.” Their back row features LeBlanc on snare, bass drummer and vocalist Derrick “Oops” Moss, and tuba player Damion Francois. The front row features trumpet players Tannon J. Williams and Marcus Hubbard, trombonist Winston Turner, and saxophonist William Terry.
Several members also continued on in college as members of the Southern University marching band. Last year, the band tightened up and toured behind their highly-celebrated third album, Rebelution (Barn Burner).
“We all came up through the marching band system in New Orleans, which was kind of a big deal,” says bass drummer Moss. “I’ve been like that all my life. I lock in on beats and rhythms more than with lyrics. Since I’m older now, I listen to more lyrics. But growing up, I was all about the drums and kickin’ the funk.”
The Soul Rebels made their professional debut with the legendary Neville Brothers at the New Orleans venue Tipitina’s in 1991. Most of the band spent time in a brass outfit called Young Olympia in the early ’90s, where they first started mixing elements of rap, funk, reggae, and rock in with their jazzier improvisations. By the mid-’90s, they were landing opening slots for a wide variety or funk, rap, and rock acts, including Bootsy Collins, A Tribe Called Quest, Better Than Ezra, Counting Crows, The Fugees, Digital Underground, The Roots, Brand New Heavies, The Gap Band, and Robert Plant and Jimmy Page.
“I used to think that we were doing something wrong when I’d look at some of the faces in the audience,” says Moss, referring to their early club gigs. “But I’ve talked to enough of them after shows to know better. We feed off the audience, too. The more you move, the more we give you.” –T. Ballard Lesemann
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