Academic journal article American Studies

ROLL WITH IT: Brass Bands in the Streets of New Orleans

Academic journal article American Studies

ROLL WITH IT: Brass Bands in the Streets of New Orleans

Article excerpt

ROLL WITH IT: Brass Bands in the Streets of New Orleans. By Matt Sakakeeny, with artwork by Willie Birch. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. 2013.

The aftermath of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 has generated many stories of resilience, hope, and survival pertaining to the experiences of New Orleans musicians, including Jason Berry's epilogue to the revised edition of Up from the Cradle of Jazz (2009), Keith Spera's Groove Interrupted (2011), John Swenson's New Atlantis (2011), and Eric Porter's and Lewis Watts's New Orleans Suite (2013)-all valuable studies. Matt Sakakeeny's Roll with It adds significantly to this narrative trend and provides perhaps the most in-depth and focused account yet. The book presents cogent case studies not only of the vicissitudes confronting members of the brass bands in question (Hot 8, Rebirth, Soul Rebels, etc.), but also of the challenges facing a team of local scholars who combine advocacy for the brass band "second line" tradition with dedication to its documentation, and of the embedded infrastructure problems related to racism, poverty, violence, and invisible service economies deriving from neo-liberal political and economic agendas that affect them all. Sakakeeny's rendition of the voyage of personal discovery that accompanied his fieldwork is especially noteworthy and engaging, generated partly by the inevitable catharsis that Katrina entailed for anyone who cares about New Orleans, but even more profoundly grounded in the lessons learned from interaction with his informants as they struggled to regain their individual and collective identities through the act of making music. …

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