GLEN ELLYN – When talking about the history of the New Orleans music scene, it is essential to include the Dirty Dozen Brass Band in the conversation.
The band, which was founded in 1977, is part of the “Take Me to the River: New Orleans LIVE” tour that will make a stop at 6 p.m. Oct. 14 at the McAninch Arts Center at the College of DuPage, 425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn.
The Dirty Dozen Brass Band will perform with fellow New Orleans musicians Ivan and Ian Neville, George Porter Jr., Big Chief Monk Boudreaux, Lost Bayou Ramblers Duo, 79rs Gang and Terence Higgins.
Tickets range in price from $47 to $65, and are available at the McAninch Arts Center's website at atthemac.org.
The tour is in celebration of a new film documentary set for release this year on the musical history of the Crescent City. The “Take Me to the River: New Orleans” documentary is a followup to a 2014 documentary, “Take Me to the River: Memphis,” executive produced by Snoop Dogg and released on Netflix in 2016.
That documentary was supported by a live concert tour in the fall of 2017, which included a sold-out performance at the MAC. Both documentaries were directed, produced and written by the Grammy-nominated musician and famed feature-film producer Martin Shore.
Suburban Life reporter Eric Schelkopf had the chance to talk to Dirty Dozen Brass Band baritone sax player and founding member Roger Lewis about the upcoming show. The interview has been edited for length and style.
Schelkopf: Is it always a special time when you get to play with other New Orleans musicians?
Lewis: It's a special time because we're collaborating with a lot of musicians from New Orleans. You don't often get a chance to do that. You are also bringing a taste of New Orleans to different parts of the country. Some of the people haven't had the opportunity to hear a variety of New Orleans music.
Schelkopf: What do you think makes the New Orleans music scene so special?
Lewis: The difference between the music of New Orleans and most other music is because we have the Gospel in our music. That's why New Orleans music is accepted all over the world.
It's because of the spirit in the music. That's why a lot of musicians will come to New Orleans to try to get what we have. People have been coming to New Orleans for years, taking certain ingredients out of the music and taking it other places. The music is spiritual, man. It makes you feel good.
Schelkopf: Of course, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band has been around since 1977. What did you guys set out to do?
Lewis: What made our band different from the other bands is that we were playing all the traditional music of New Orleans along with our original compositions.
We brought all of this music to the street, and it was a little different. We slightly picked up the beat a little bit. And it caught on. And by catching on like that, here we are, 40 years from that date, still doing it.
Schelkopf: Why do you think your music still holds up to this day?
Lewis: Because people like it, even if they haven't heard the band before. They just embrace it, and they keep coming back for more. We've taken this music all over the world. If they didn't like it, we wouldn't still be in business.