Ann Arbor Weather:
Saturday October 23, 2021
Follow us: facebook twitter RSS feed
The Dixie Power Trio

The Dixie Power Trio

Living tradition

by James M. Manheim

From the March, 2003 issue

The music of New Orleans is unlike that of any other place. Last winter, as I walked through Louis Armstrong Park, the site of the old Congo Square where pure African music reigned, a young African American woman shouted "Hello!" I looked over my shoulder to see who was being hailed, and she said, "Yeah, you!" It turned out that she and her friend were going to perform at the Heritage Festival a few weeks later, and they hoped I could come. What was their music like, I asked. "It's mostly mantras," she answered. "But we do them with a reggae beat." "Yup," I thought to myself. "This place has still got it."

The Dixie Power Trio has got what makes New Orleans music special, too — even if these musicians do come from Fredericksburg, Virginia. The tradition all hangs together, and it absorbs everything new that comes along. There are Dixieland revival bands all over, but maybe you haven't heard one like the Dixie Power Trio — it's about living tradition, not nostalgia. On its latest album, The Virgil Sessions, the group offers early jazz classics, a tango, straight blues, zydeco from out in the swamps, Cajun music, ruminative Jelly Roll Morton-type vocals, an Allen Toussaint-style funk ode to the titular auto mechanic ("Virgil under the Hood") who repaired their van after they broke down on the way to a gig one time, newer layers of jazz, and still more. It all seems to flow straight from a single source, and it's terrific fun.

When they started out in the mid-1990s, the members of DPT (as they call themselves) also performed things like "Stairway to Heaven" on Louisiana instruments, but since then they've pared away the gimmicks. The only one left is that they're not actually a trio but a quartet. Lead vocalist Zack Smith also plays cornet, accordion, and frottoir (rub board), and the group is rounded out by guitarist Wayne Wilkinson, tubaist Andy

...continued below...


Kochenour, and drummer Byron McWilliams. The mix, which also includes other horns and a fiddle at times, is flexible enough to evoke quite a range of music but small enough to be personal; DPT isn't chasing some musical ideal or trying to make a point, but aiming to please.

Two more things are worthy of note. First, Zack Smith's originals aren't period pieces or party anthems; they have a nice, dissatisfied, contemporary edge to them. Second, if you like the sound of a tuba, you'll hear plenty of it here. The Dixie Power Trio comes to the Ark on Thursday, March 6.     (end of article)

[Originally published in March, 2003.]

 


 
Bookmark and Share
Print Comment E-mail

You might also like:

Networking & Career Development
Abercrombie & Fitch, Kasoa African Market
October 2021 Marketplace Closings
Micheline Maynard
Ann Arbor City Code
Writing Coach
When Adam Was spent the biggest game of the season on the bench, he was "hurt and confused."
Jan Schlain
Mystery Bins
Who's really collecting that used clothing?
Tim Athan
Ann Arbor's Forgotten Movie Star, by Tim Athan
Nightspots: Blind Pig
Qmin
Indian-Asian fusion on E. Liberty
Micheline Maynard
Superconductors
The A2SO's search for a new music director will play out in public this season.
arwulf arwulf
Restaurants with Diapering Facilities
A clickable zoomable map
a2view the Ann Arbor Observer's weekly email newsletter