When the world comes to party in New Orleans, it often heads straight to the French Quarter. This week, however, a series of celebrations and events shifts the focus a bit to the neighborhood just next door, Tremé, the mixing pot where so much of the city’s cultural richness first gelled.
This year marks the 200th anniversary of the city's incorporation of Tremé, which by 1812 was well-established as a bastion for free people of color. To mark the bicentennial, the six-day event Tremé 200 is showcasing the history, culture and people of the neighborhood.
Tremé 200 includes film screenings and panel discussions (see the full schedule here) and a calendar full of music, parties and second line parades, which, naturally, is our focus here on the After Hours beat.
This evening, things get started early at 5 p.m. with a block party outside of the Candelight Lounge (925 N. Robertson St., 504-525-4748). This low-slung barroom does not look like much, but it’s the traditional Wednesday venue for the Tremé Brass Band, which tonight will set up outside to kickoff Tremé 200. DJs will join the party, too.
Thursday features the Tremé 200 Club Crawl, a roving party that also begins at 5 p.m. at the Creole soul restaurant Lil Dizzy’s (1500 Esplanade Ave., 504-569-8997) and continues along a circuit of stops in the neighborhood, including Kermit’s Tremé Speakeasy, the Candlelight Lounge, Basin Street Lounge, Mother-in-Law Lounge, Sidney’s Saloon, Bertha’s Place, Seale’s Class Act, Lil’ Dizzy’s and Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club.
Brass bands love overpasses, which amplify their booming sounds, and on Friday five of them will converge for “Brass Under the Bridge,” held at Lemann Park (1600 Lafitte St., by the Claiborne Avenue overpass). On tap for the blowout are the Hot 8, Rebirth, Dirty Dozen, the Original Pinettes and Baby Boyz brass bands and things here begin at 6p.m.
On Saturday, Tremé 200 joins forces with the Rejoicin’ in the Park Gospel Festival for a day of music on two stages in Armstrong Park. The Gospel stage features a bill of gospel acts including choirs from local churches, schools and other performers, beginning at 10 a.m. Meanwhile, the Tremé 200 stage gets cooking at 11 a.m. and will see performances by Kermit Ruffins, the Brassaholics, Doreen Ketchens, Corey Henry & Tremé Funktet, Chuck Perkins & Voices of the Big Easy and The Uncle Lionel Orchestra, which honors the late musician and Tremé fixture “Uncle” Lionel Batiste.
Finally, on Sunday, the Tremé 200 celebration gets an early start at church before taking things to the street. The historic St. Augustine Catholic Church (1210 Gov. Nicholls St., 525-5934) will hold a Jazz Mass at 10 a.m., featuring the gospel choir Soulful Voices and the Tremé Brass Band. Then, at noon, the neighborhood will witness the Tremé United Second Line, which is billed as the first event of its kind. Elements from social aid and pleasure clubs and parade groups will march with a collection of brass bands including Rebirth, To Be Continued, Tremé and Hot 8 for what sounds like it could be the mother of all second lines. The parade begins and ends by St. Augustine at 1210 Gov. Nicholls St. (there’s a route map on the Tremé 200 web site).
Tremé 200 events are free and open to the public. For more details and information about the event’s panel discussions see www.treme2012.com.