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New Orleans Emerging Musicians: Derrick Freeman of Soul Brass Band

Soul Brass Band (Photo: Katie Sikora)

I worked with Derrick Freeman before I ever got to meet him. It was Jazz Fest 2016 and both him and I were coming straight to the gig—him playing, me shooting—from other jobs. The first notes I heard Soul Brass Band play were with my camera in front of my face. The stage was packed with musical heavyweights from around town: Freeman himself blocked in view by Danny Abel on guitar, James Martin on saxophone, Michael Washington on trombone, and Christina Morales accompanying with vocals, amongst others. That first show was just at the start of the “official” life of Soul Brass Band (different iterations of the group have existed for years) and consisted of many standards and covers. And while it is not to say that those covers did not blow me away, just earlier this year the band released their first original album, Levels, that is not to be missed. In honor of the accomplishment, I got Freeman to play 20 (okay, 11) questions with me for this month’s Emerging Artist series.

Derrick Freeman of Soul Brass Band (Photo: Katie Sikora)

Katie Sikora: When did you start playing music?

Derrick Freeman: I started playing piano at age eight and drums at age 10.

KS: Where did you grow up?

DF: I grew up in Houston, Tx. I moved here in 1992 to go to college.

KS: Do you draw inspiration from other genres as well?  If so, which ones? 

DF: My music now is a mash up of many genres. I believe my songs are about storytelling more than anything else.

Soul Brass Band (Photo: Katie Sikora)

KS: What has been your favorite performance experience in New Orleans thus far?

DF: There are too many to name. I’ve been truly blessed in that I’ve gotten to play with most of my heroes.

KS: Which New Orleans musicians most inspire you?

DF: Ellis Marsalis, Herlin Riley, George Porter, Cyril Neville, John Sinclair, Mannie Fresh.

KS: Favorite place to catch live music in NOLA?

DF: Tipitinas.

KS: What do you love most about this city?

DF: Hands down the people.

Soul Brass Band (Photo: Katie Sikora)

KS: What is your favorite non-musical activity to do in New Orleans?

DF: The Saints!

KS: Favorite food to eat in NOLA?

DF: I mean…literally everything.

KS: What are your next performances? 

DF: September 21 at Café Negril, September 22 at d.b.a., and September 27 at the Spotted Cat.

KS: Is there anything else you would like to add?

DF: My mission as an artist is to be as versatile as possible and to be able to execute and entertain through many genres of music.

Katie Sikora graduated from the University of Miami with a degree in Visual Journalism and worked as Photo Editor at The Peninsula Pulse in Door County, Wis., Media Strategist for Levy Restaurants in Chicago, Ill., and an Archivist at The National World War II Museum in New Orleans, La. before pursuing her namesake photography business shooting everything from shark tagging research to vodou ceremonies and—you guessed it—weddings! Her photographs have been published by The Chicago Sun-Times, Gambit, The Times-Picayune, RedEye Chicago, The New Orleans Advocate, Houseshow Magazine, Antigravity Magazine, In The Bite Magazine, Thrillist, CBS Chicago, NBC Chicago, and the World Wildlife Fund amongst others. She is the creator and director of The Sexism Project, an ongoing portrait and interview series featuring the stories of real women in real industries experiencing real sexism.

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