Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Hot 8 in Albuquerque

My wife and I went to the Casablanca Club at Hotel Andaluz on Friday, May 6, to show our support for 516 ARTS and the Outpost Performance Space (and its respective fearless leaders, Suzanne Sbarge and Tom Guralnick). We’re fans of New Orleans music but as this was a nonprofit benefit, we expected a relatively sedate evening of people sitting in rows clapping politely.

When the Hot 8 opened with a classic Dixieland number, our expectations seemed right on. But the octet gradually ratcheted up the energy and before long had fully uncorked the funk. By about the third song, the dance floor was packed, with us right up front. We repeatedly took our seats, exhausted, as the set cooked along, only to be coaxed back to the floor by the band’s propulsive second-line beats and righteous groove. Angels of mercy administered cocktails as the sweat rolled down.

Counting several fine vocalists among its horn players (including trumpeter Terrell Batiste), the Hot 8 was not only relentless in their mission to keep bodies moving; they were also master showmen, working the crowd into a frenzy with call-and-response sessions and even a spirited line dance. I can’t remember the last time I saw a mostly white crowd shaking it like that. The bons temps did indeed rouler.

I’ve since seen Batiste in a speaking role on the HBO show Treme, which prompted exceedingly fond memories of that rockin’ downtown party. Heartfelt thanks to the Hot 8, 516 ARTS, Outpost Performance Space and the Hotel Andaluz for making it happen.

-- Simon Glickman, Los Angeles, CA

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