Fans Fill Tremé’s Candlelight Lounge

Just a section of the Treme Band and guest musicians. “Congestion” restricted my full focal view. (Photo by P.M. Butler, Jazz&Jazz)

One of the most spontaneous and exciting jazz gigs I have ever witnessed was at The Candlelight Lounge in Tremé, New Orleans. Every Wednesday night at this cradle of jazz, The Tremé Brass Band plays for free. What’s more, there’s free red beans and rice before the show starts.

On that magical night during the 2010 Ken Colyer Trust French Quarter Festival Tour, a host of ardent fans from around the world, all packed in like sardines, witnessed a spectacle never to be forgotten. The show began at 9.30 sharp with just seven playing. Then more joined in. Then more… then even more, as musicians from around the world joined in with the Tremé band. Three trumpeters, three clarinets, two drummers, three sousaphones, at least two banjos and trombones – after a while I lost count but altogether there must have been at least 30 musicians crowded onto that tiny stage.

And in the narrow space between the audience and the band, dancers of all shapes and sizes strutted their stuff so vigourously that Barry Price and I, seated in the front row, moved back a row for safety lest we should have been toppled like dominoes! Such was the melee that I couldn’t quite wield my camera to full effect and got fewer shots than I would have liked.

Band leader Kenneth Terry lets rip on trumpet. (Photo by P.M. Butler, Jazz&Jazz)

“Uncle” Lionel Batiste on drums strove to maintain a calming influence but how trumpeter Kenneth Terry held the host together was beyond me.

I had heard said from a very reliable source that Jools Holland, along with Sammy Rimington and a couple of other jazz musicians, put on a totally unannounced impromptu jam session during a meal in a pub in deepest Kent not so many months ago. So whilst still reeling during that evening at The Candlelight Lounge, it struck me what wonders it could do for a massive jazz revival if Jools could feature such a spectacle on his “Later with Jools Holland” BBC2 spectacular. It could instil the same kind of inspiration for young jazz musicians as does the Tremé experience.

Peter M Butler
Editor Jazz&Jazz

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  1. Jeff Matthews says:

    Hi Peter. Totally agree. Jools Holland could do traditional jazz a big favour by featuring it on his show every so often.


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