In today’s Spotlight Series we’re featuring the LowDown Brass Band, a Chicago-based ensemble that takes the traditional sounds of the Big Easy to new heights with infusions of jazz, blues, funk and hip-hop. The group’s hard-hitting horn section, groovy sousaphone and funkified drums create an atmosphere that fans describe as “an absolute party,” and the recent addition of ferocious poet MC Billa Camp’s energizing rhymes has made their live performances even more explosive. After lighting up Levitt AMP Sheboygan earlier this month, the LowDown Brass Band will be bringing the funk to Levitt Pavilion SteelStacks tonight for another pumped-up performance.
The LowDown Brass Band’s story began about 15 years ago, when DePaul University student and self-professed “jazz nerd” Dave Levine (baritone saxophone) took a trip to New Orleans and had his mind blown by the second line celebrations he saw in the city’s French Quarter. The term refers to a “second line” of revelers who follow a band (the “first line”) through the streets, creating an impromptu party that anyone is welcome to join. Upon returning to Chicago, Levine hopped on a conference call with his musically-inclined friends Lance Loiselle (sousaphone) and Chris Neal (tenor sax) to pitch the idea of forming a big brass band of their own. Other musicians soon entered the fold, and the band’s roster grew to be 11 strong with a full range of instruments.
After six studio albums and several prestigious performances, including a headlining gig last year at the vaunted Montreal Jazz Festival, the musicians of the LowDown Brass Band have firmly established themselves as mainstays in the Chicago music scene. When they’re not on tour or in the studio, they dedicate themselves to music education, and are known for providing lively clinics to high school and collegiate bands in Chicago and beyond. At an education conference in Wyoming, the band’s second line influence came to the fore when they led over 600 students in a conga line. According to Levine, spreading the joy of music to future generations is one of the band’s most important functions.
Given their boundless energy and inclusive attitude, The LowDown Brass Band are a natural fit for free outdoor concerts at Levitt venues. Tonight’s performance at Levitt Steelstacks will be their fourth time on a Levitt stage, following shows at Levitt AMP Sheboygan earlier this month, Levitt AMP Woonsocket in 2018, and Levitt AMP Berea in 2017. Their infectious track “I Got That Feeling” was also featured in our 2018 #musicmoves recap video. Be sure to join the party tonight with the LowDown Brass Band at Levitt SteelStacks and show off your #musicmoves!