ST. LOUIS – What started in early April with roommates Ben Kosberg and Dominique Burton playing “Stand By Me” on the streets of Tower Grove has blossomed. Joined by their fellow Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity brothers, the Red and Black Brass Band has been spreading music and joy to St. Louis neighborhoods ever since.
“After we saw how happy it made people, we kind of all got together and put this brass band idea that we’d had in our heads for a while into motion,” Kosberg said.
“It was a breath of fresh air, literally,” added Burton. “Getting outside and actually seeing people enjoy seeing what we’re doing. Because we enjoy what we’re doing.”
Bringing their second line, New Orleans-style brass to the streets of St. Louis was never in doubt.
“Everything just came together. So we like, why not? St. Louis is like a sister city to New Orleans,” said Ravie Junior, who plays the bass drum. “We knew that the food culture on New Orleans is received here so well. We knew that the music culture would be received here just the same.”
As they march, the people respond by dancing, singing, and pulling out cell phones to capture the delight.
“To get that kind of energy, that feedback from people right in front of you is different, especially from me, I spend a lot of my time in the back of choirs and the back of orchestras,” said trombonist Adam Kosberg.
Tenor sax player DeRochelle Coleman added, “That’s what it’s all about. When people come out on their porches and into the street, follow us down the street. They’re marching. That’s so satisfying to see.”
The crowds shout their thanks and even their requests. The number one song they get asked to play: “Gloria.” And they are happy to oblige because the happiness of the people also brings happiness to the band.
“Music is a communication, a conversation. We’re pouring into the onlookers, the listeners and they’re also pouring into us.,” said trumpeter Walter Beckham.
The group says they hope to eventually take their sound to the concert stage. But for now, they march, bringing a little light everywhere they play.
“We are here for the people. Music, at the heart of it, is a very emotional thing. It’s a very healing thing,” said Junior.