Roll With It: Brass Bands in the Streets of New Orleans
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About the Author
Matt Sakakeeny is an ethnomusicologist and journalist, New Orleans resident and musician. An Assistant Professor of Music at Tulane University, he initially moved to New Orleans to work as a co-producer of the public radio program American Routes. Sakakeeny has written for publications including The Oxford American, Mojo, and Wax Poetics. He plays guitar in the band Los Po-Boy-Citos.
Willie Birch is an international artist who lives in New Orleans, where he was born in 1942. Birch received his BA from Southern University New Orleans in 1969 and his MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in 1973. He is the recipient of many awards and honors, including the State of Louisiana Governor's award and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. His works are part of the permanent collections of the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.
"A notable work in that it's the first critical project to chronicle New Orleans' bombastic contemporary brass-band scene, the generation of musicians that grew up with century-old hymns in one ear and hip-hop in the other; also, and importantly, it's a keen, social-justice-minded examination of the turbulent mix of race, economics, culture and tradition in which brass band culture is located."--Alison Fensterstock "Times-Picayune "
"Sakakeeny offers detailed accounts of parades and the inner workings of the bands. The book offers a full picture of their lives and how the city's cultural economy works on the factory end. Sakakeeny observes the way the city celebrates its culture and especially its musicians, but the book also exposes the way many of them survive on the same earnings as low-rung service industry workers. It's an engaging look street-level look at the bands that so often are used to represent and symbolize the city."--Will Coviello "Gambit "
"Roll With It is informative on many levels, detailing song structures, jazz history, neighborhood developments, and weaving information together through anecdote and research. It also poses a bigger question: If our city has economically benefitted from selling culture as a post-Katrina resource, are musicians getting what they deserve? Roll With It explores the answer."--Samuel Nelson "Where Y'at? "
"In addition to chronicling groups including the Rebirth Brass Brand, Sakakeeny provides a revealing look at the daily lives of musicians. . . . Detailed profiles of individual musicians make for a captivating narrative, and the book is beautifully illustrated with artwork by New Orleans native Willie Birch."--Scott Barretta "Clarion-Ledger "
"Roll With It adds a contemporary perspective to studies of New Orleans culture and music. What emerges from Sakakeeny's book is a portrait of a city that, with all its challenges, still manages to support a vibrant musical culture." --John Paul Meyers "Jazz Perspectives "
"[T]hose interested in a holistic consideration of musical products and cultural processes will find Sakakeeny's study to be highly engaging and viscerally affecting as it exposes the oppositional forces inherent in a highly venerated--but highly volatile--performance tradition."--David Kammerer"Ethnomusicology" (06/01/2017)
"Sakakeeny's approach to the tensions between continuity in change in Roll With It: Brass Bands in the Streets of New Orleans, searches past academic theories, tapping many interviews and his own experiences with musicians. . . . Roll With It deserves a wide readership in the post-Katrina boom." --Jason Berry "New Orleans Magazine "
"This is a volume in which rich ethnographic detail fails to obscure the broader framework of academic theory and personal concern for both the musicians and the music. Roll With It belongs on the reading lists of all those teaching ethnomusicology or ethnography in the modern world, those whose teaching engages with popular music, race, performance, tourism and economy, and those who are concerned about the relationship between their research (or the academic world in general) and the sociopolitical (and economic and racial) realities of the worlds in which we all live."--Gregory Booth "Journal of Popular Music Studies "
"As Sakakeeny makes clear, the story of the city's brass bands is far more complex than music alone. Beyond its entertainment value, music serves as the 'site where competing social, political, and economic vectors intersect.' In many ways, these vectors serve as a microcosm for the problems within the city at large."
"Roll with It is an edifying, enjoyable, enlightening read and refreshing musical study. It conveys and embodies a vivaciousness, both the author's and that of the musical people portrayed throughout the book, a movement through time and place that refuses to slow down or be diverted or silenced."-- (06/01/2015)
"Fascinating. . . . The musicians' personal stories are interwoven with historical information, academic reflection, and personal experience, combining to form a highly original work that creates a vivid portrait both of this musical format and the noble but beleaguered city of New Orleans." --Florence Wetzel "All About Jazz "