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Approaching the Cistern as the Rebirth Brass Band launched into their first song, the scene didn't look too promising. Everyone was sitting down. My hyped up group was concerned, saying “You can't listen to music like this and not dance!” But the disappointment didn't last long—as the nine-piece band jammed out a couple more energetic New Orleans tunes, listeners began to group around the stage, and a few got their white flags up and twitching in the air. Momentum gathered as the Grammy Award-winning (and they made sure to mention it several times) band led the crowd in chanting “Rebirth,” then took a break to welcome the audience, saying “We're gonna pick it up a little.” And they did.
Among the tunes that made an impression: “Who Dat...Who Dat!!!” and another that one band member said was a “bad day, let your frustrations out” kind of song. To that end, he got the audience calling out a deep-chested “what-oooh” in the perfect end-of-work-week release. An hour or so in, the area around the stage was packed with wildly grooving 20 to 40-somethings—a few older folks mixed in—but all of the chairs lined up down the center were still somehow filled with people calmly seated. Rebirth took care of that with a “everybody get on your feet now, come on!” and the people listened. No matter their age, they got to their feet, and maybe even started to dance a little.
Seeing them finally up and letting loose, the crowd around me having done so long ago and now just reveling in the luxury of it, I thought back to something jazz series director Micheal Grofsorean said in our May 2012 profile on him: “I look for lyricism, depth, and, if we’re lucky, a few moments of transcendence. By that, I mean the chance that something will happen so beautiful that it feels like time has stopped.” For me, at least, those were moments of transcendence. All in all, the most fun Spoleto show I've ever attended. Catch them playing again tonight, and put on your dancing shoes.