‘Dirty Dozen’ redefines New Orleans jazz


Dirty Dozen Brass Band will perform at Heritage Hall in Lexington on Thursday, Nov. 10. 

Gordon Kaye

More than 500 years of combined musical experience will grace the stage at Heritage Hall Thursday when the Blind Boys of Alabama, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Roomful of Blues and more groups perform as part of the Big in the Bluegrass concert. The event will benefit the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bluegrass

Born out of the Second Line tradition, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band was formed in 1977. The scarcity of steady gigs at this time resulted in more rehearsal time, as well as the incorporation of bebop and jazz tunes to accompany traditional numbers. 

“People think New Orleans music is one thing, but you’ve got to remember it’s a big musical gumbo,” baritone saxophonist Roger Lewis said. “Musicians don’t really name their music, they just play.” 

This mindset is apparent when listening to any of the 14 albums the band has released over the past 40 years. From the release of its first album “My Feet Can’t Fail Me Now” in 1984 to its most recent release in 2012, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band has continued to bring its own unique style and sound to the world. Among its 14 albums are a tribute to the New Orleans Jazz legend Ferdinand Joseph LaMothe, better known as Jelly Roll Morton. 

The group’s 2004 release “Funeral For A Friend” features a variety of hymns traditionally performed in New Orleans as part of funeral processions, referred to as “jazz funerals.” As a response to the mishandling and militarization of New Orleans post-Katrina, the band recreated Marvin Gaye’s classic album “What’s Going On” with its own twist. 

Dirty Dozen Brass Band shows off its versatility in its most recent release “Twenty Dozen,” which features a refreshing take on Rihanna’s “Don’t Stop the Music,” the funky crowd pleaser “Dirty Old Man,” as well as the Latin-infused hip-mover “Best of All.” 

The band will celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2017 and Lewis said they’ll be working on a new album to commemorate the achievement.

In addition to its in-studio achievements, the band has appeared several times on Late Night with Conan O’Brien and is featured prominently in the HBO television series Tremé. Lewis can be seen throughout the series performing with the Dirty Dozen as well as the Tremé Brass Band. 

“It’s just another gig. I’ve been doing this for 65 years” Lewis said. 

The band has toured alongside southern rock gods Widespread Panic and Modest Mouse and is a staple of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Lewis is a proud member of more than five bands across New Orleans.

Thursday’s show begins at 7 p.m. at Heritage Hall located inside the Lexington Convention Center. General admission tickets are $35. A special VIP ticket package is available for $150, and includes a cocktail reception, pre-show, appetizers, an artist meet-and-greet, silent auction, preferred parking, front row seating for the event and more.

The concert is open to all ages, with all event proceeds going to Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bluegrass. For more information on the organization and their mission visit http://www.bbbs-bluegrass.org/.


What: Blind Boys of Alabama, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Roomful of Blues, and more

When: Thursday, Nov. 10 at 7 p.m.

Where: Heritage Hall – 430 W Vine St.

Tickets: $35-150