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New Orleans jazz is a huge element to the city, but perhaps more importantly it seems to be a vital way of binding communities and families together across the generations. What are the most useful tips about making music and performance that you’ve learnt from some of the older musicians around the city? I've learned a lot about making music and performing from the older musicians. I learnt you have to respect yourself and the music first. I learned as much as I could about how this music even exists and what it takes to up hold the integrity of this music and culture. We take it very seriously - treat it right and it will treat you the same. In many different ways respecting this culture can bring you to places you’ve never been or would never ever have gone and it can reveal things to you that you have never known. Four of your original members have sadly died due to street violence and illness, and Batiste survived losing both his legs in an accident. You’ve seen some hard times – has the music helped you through it both individually and as a band? Te music definitely helped us through it, but not the music alone. It was also seeing and witnessing what we can do by continuing to strive and stay true to our craft, and how the music helps heal other people who are in worse conditions than us. Tat's a great feeling and inspires us to keep us going. I would also mention the promise and dreams of reaching mutual goals and sharing the same visions with the guys who lost their lives along the way gives us the strength to carry on. Also, our faith in God. Your latest album came out last year – Vicennial. It’s kind of a best of, with some of your classic tracks on there, but also including performances from loved ones of those band members you’ve lost. Did making this album have a poignancy to it, as you brought together all those special memories? Yes, it was must-do album; we could not have carried on doing music if we could not take time out to pay ourselves some respect and also our fallen members who stood with us in this struggle to continue on. Of course we wish they were still around and we wish could have put more music out with them but as we go along we will keep that dream alive and continue to pay our respects. You’ve done covers of Snoop’s What’s My Name right through to Just My Imagination via Sexual Healing. Have there been any songs you’ve attempted to cover but they just haven’t worked out?

INFORMATION Te Hot 8 Brass Band play Norwich Arts Centre on 27th July with support from Sure Delight and Savage Island. Tickets available from

No, for the most part the covers work out just fine for us. To cover a tune successfully it has to be a hit song or carry a strong message. We’re always work on our own music as well, looking at or what inspires us or life situations that we made it through. I know you were on When Te Levees Broke, an incredible documentary. How did Hurricane Katrina affect the band? Tat experience broke us, rebuilt us and prepared us to carry on bigger and better. How is New Orleans recovering now? I would say it's a day-by-day process. You learn by making it through something like Katrina that nothing is forever, nothing is for certain. You have to humble yourself and give yourself a chance to try again at it without breaking. You recorded an album with the Blind Boys of Alabama. What was that experience like? I would say that experience was a lesson of perseverance. It let us all know that just because you’re talented it’s not enough. You’ve got to want to accomplish your goals far beyond your talent - you have to have embed that in yourself to bring out your best and to never give up. I very much enjoyed the film about you guys that’s on your website. How did that come about?

I love that film too! It was one of those opportunities that we were about to pass up at a very young age. As a band we never trusted anyone that approached us with anything that did not seem right. One of the local bar owners where we was playing weekly approached us saying that a guy from Chicago had asked her if we be interested in doing a documentary about ourselves. We were like “no” - she was trying to tell us about how in the future we would be very happy we did this and we would just love to see ourselves from the beginning once we get older. We all were still “nope”. Ten some of us was like “it might not be such a bad idea” so we wound up doing it but it was hard to get all us on the same page and I don't even won't to start about how our parents were about it, ha ha! Obviously you play a lot of standards like When Te Saints.., but how do you go about creating new tunes together? Is it a case of jamming together til something forms? Yes, that's one of the ways but also our life experiences can always pull a hit song out of us whether we experience it as a group or individually. I would say it’s also just pure inspiration. Do you think it’s possible to teach someone to play with soul and feeling, or do you think you have to be born with it? No, I don't think you have to be born with it at all but it’s a million dollar blessing if you were even in it was just for the experience, ha ha! I very much believe you can teach someone to play with soul but more importantly I believe that person must really want it in their heart and soul and must not be afraid to let it go at all times. What makes a gig great for you, and to what extent does the audience’s appreciation influence your feeling about any particular show? When we play a gig and it lives up to most of the band members’ standards about how we are supposed to perform as a group, that makes it a great gig for me. I would also say if the majority of the audience is literally busting a move and dancing like no-one else is in the room - you know like how you would be in the shower or alone by yourself when you just got some great news - that right there would be enough for the audience to influence my feelings about a show. You’ve played Norwich before – what are your memories of that night? It was one for the books! A great audience and a true Hot 8 party in New Orleans fashion. We can't wait to get back. WE PARTYING!!

Lizz Page

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