I have been watching the second season of "Treme," the HBO drama set in New Orleans, which begins on Sunday (April 24). Loved the first season and am equally enjoying what I have seen in the first two episodes of Season 2. Besides the characters, writing and setting, I love the way the show uses music, both from nationally known New Orleans legends and from people I had never heard before (like John Boutte, in a non-"Treme" video, above). So an announcement of HBO's putting full-length performances from show on iTunes. Enjoy.
The official word: The critically-acclaimed HBO drama series Treme begins its second season in April and during its run, eight musical performances by renowned artists appearing on the show will be available for purchase and download exclusively on the iTunes Store (www.iTunes.com/Treme). One video performance will be released following its corresponding episode for $1.99 each; along with a free video podcast that gives a detailed look at that week’s artist. The first performance – “From The Corner To The Block” by Galactic and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band with Juvenile – will debut April 24th.
“Music is at the heart of our show so it is frustrating when we can’t fully showcase the amazing performances we capture," noted David Simon, Treme co-creator and executive producer. “We want to be sure fans have the opportunity to hear the songs in their entirety.” Among these are performances and music from Shawn Colvin, Hot 8 Brass Band, John Hiatt and The Radiators.
Each video will include a DJ style introduction from actor Steve Zahn, as his Treme character Davis McAlary, or John “Spud” McConnell, as his character DJ Jeffy Jeff. The performances feature a different style of New Orleans or Southern Louisiana music in unique settings throughout the Crescent City including Tipitina’s, The Chocolate Bar, The House of Blues and Musicians Union Hall. The performances often feature collaborations among artists who don’t normally play together, such as classical violinist Lucia Micarelli (Annie) and Shawn Colvin.
Continues, with individual videos listed, after the jump.
The performances are captured live, creating an intimacy and spontaneity to the pieces that allow viewers to feel part of the music in a more in depth way than could ever be possible within an episode. While traditional music can be polished and rehearsed, the goal of these performances is to capture a moment which could take place on any street corner in New Orleans: the music as it would naturally be performed.
In addition to the video, a corresponding free video podcast will be released with each performance. The 3-5 minute vignette provides a more detailed look at that week’s featured artists and songs, including interviews and clips about their musical inspirations and tales from the shoot.
The following is a list of the first six video performances to be featured on iTunes along with a synopsis developed by Treme show writer Lolis Eric Elie:
Season 2, Music Video from Episode 1: “From The Corner To The Block” -- Galactic and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band with Juvenile
Premiering Sunday, April 24th
The parts were all there: Galactic had played with Juvenile on the Jimmy Kimmel Show in 2006. Juvenile had appeared on Galactic’s “From the Corner to the Block” album. But back then, he recorded his part in a separate studio. “He didn’t record with the band,” recalls Galactic saxophonist, Ben Ellman. “He was in Atlanta, so we never really got a chance to hang out.” While Juvenile wrote the rhymes, the music was composed by Galactic and the Soul Rebels Brass Band. But it’s the Dirty Dozen, the seminal, modern New Orleans brass band, that takes the place of the Soul Rebels on this performance. This performance brought Juvenile, Galactic and the Dirty Dozen onstage together for the first time.
Season 2, Music Video from Episode 2: "New Orleans After The City" -- Hot 8 Brass Band
Premiering Sunday, May 1st
In the summer of 2006, much of New Orleans was dusty with dried Hurricane Katrina muck and funky with the smell of the levee failures. France was clean and the sellout audiences were digging the music of the Hot 8 Brass band. “We were playing on the road, but we were never playing at home. It just wasn’t the same,” recalls tuba player and bandleader, Bennie Pete. The band wrote “New Orleans After the City” in France. But check out the video of them playing the song in front of a hometown crowd. You can feel the catharsis, the joyous post-diluvian melancholy that overtakes the locals even now whenever New Orleans people hear one of their affirmative anthems being played.
Season 2, Music Video from Episode 3: "Got To Get You Off My Mind" -- Antoine Batiste and his Soul Apostles with Wanda Rouzan
Premiering Sunday, May 8th
As Antoine Batiste puts it, the Soul Apostles play “music that don’t get played no more, but people wish it did because you can shake your ass to it.” You got to have a woman singer in a real soul revue and in this band that singer is New Orleans’ own Wanda Rouzan. She’s probably best known for her work in the off-Broadway production “One Mo’ Time.” The incarnation of the Soul Apostles featured here includes Thaddeus Richard on keyboards, Cornell Williams on bass, Raymond Weber on drums, Mario Abney and Terrell Batiste on trumpets, Lance Ellis on baritone saxophone, Roderick Paulin on tenor saxophone and the Rebirth Brass Band's Stafford Agee in the shadows on trombone. For this session they play one of those good ‘ol R&B good ones, Solomon Burke’s “Got to Get You Off My Mind.”
Season 2, Music Video from Episode 4: "I'm Gone" -- Shawn Colvin with Lucia Micarelli (Annie)
Premiering Sunday, May 15th
When three-time Grammy winner Shawn played New Orleans’ House of Blues, she had our own Annie Tee (Micarelli) join her on stage. With Colvin on guitar and Annie on fiddle, they play Colvin’s hit, “I’m Gone.” Singing in the first person, Colvin introduces us to a woman who is not to be trifled with: “There are things I will do for a hatchet job too. Ante up. There’s a new kid in town.” Though she’s no longer a new kid, Annie plays with a confidence and subtlety here that we haven’t heard from her before.
Season 2, Music Video from Episode 5: “Decoy” -- Delmond Lambreaux Quintet
Premiering Sunday, May 22nd
Delmond Lambreaux is trying to reconcile two conflicting aspects of his life: the music of New Orleans and the sound of modern jazz. Jonathan Batiste comes from a similar background. He was 8-years-old when he made his musical debut playing funk with the family ensemble, the Batiste Brothers Band. Now, at 24, he’s playing one of his compositions in New York with Delmond’s group. “‘Decoy’ was one of the songs that I wrote trying to put together the contempory element with the New Orleans element,” explains Batiste. “The contemporary jazz element is found in the harmony and also in the form. But it also is pretty simple. That’s one of the things that’s definitely part of the New Orleans culture, having a melody that people can hear immediately, and catch it, and sing along.” The form of this song is a blues. Of course, that’s blues as in Duke Ellington or Charlie Parker, not B.B. King or Robert Johnson.
Season 2, Music Video from Episode 6: “Feels Like Rain” -- John Hiatt
Premiering Sunday, May 29th
John Hiatt is a master craftsman. You doubt? How many songwriters do you know whose work has been covered by Bob Dylan, Linda Ronstadt, Bonnie Raitt, Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Willie Nelson, Joan Baez, Paula Abdul, Buddy Guy, Aaron Neville, Keith Urban and Joe Cocker? He’s also a great singer and performer, as this performance of “Feels Like Rain” makes clear. With its references to heat and hurricanes, rain and Lake Pontchartrain, the song sounds relevant to post-flood New Orleans. But Hiatt reminds us that, as difficult as it is to imagine sometimes, the world is filled with hurricanes not named Katrina.
Ten performances from Treme’s first season are also available on the Treme iTunes page.
For more information on the artists featured in each of the Treme music videos, please go to:
Soul Rebels Brass Band (http://www.soulrebelsbrassband.com/)
Dirty Dozen Band (http://www.dirtydozenbrass.com/)
Wanda Rouzan (http://www.wandarouzan.com/index.html)
Jonathan Batiste (http://www.myspace.com/jonathanbatiste/music/playlists/my-playlist-199560)
Batiste Brothers Band, (http://www.batistebrothersband.com/)
Shawn Colvin (http://www.shawncolvin.com/)
John Hiatt (http://www.johnhiatt.com/)