Story by J Hunter
My first Second Line happened in 1996 at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, known forevermore and worldwide as “Jazzfest.” The band that led the way was a local outfit whose name escapes me, but they’re actually not important. What was important was the Second Line, which is essentially ongoing musical permission for anyone to join the band in the street (or the aisle, or – in the case of Jazzfest – the race track) and march, dance, laugh and generally make a full-on public spectacle of themselves. One Second Line and I was hooked; every time I’ve had the chance to take part in one, I’ve jumped on it, whether it was at SPAC with the venerable Preservation Hall Jazz Band or at Lake George Jazz Weekend with Jazz2K monsters John Ellis & Double-Wide.
But here’s the thing: All my opportunities have only come when a New Orleans band has ventured into Greater Nippertown. As far as the Empire State is concerned, a Second Line is a foreign thing, because nobody in this neck of the woods practiced this form of cathartic celebration. Thanks to trombonist Joe Scatassa and the Outer Borough Brass Band, that situation is changing. Scatassa is an alumnus of Loyola University in New Orleans, a former member of the NOLA party outfit Bonerama, and he also plays guitar in several NYC bands. But a couple of years ago, he realized there was a void in his musical life.